EEOC Claims Victory in Sexual Orientation Settlement

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has settled one of the agency’s first lawsuits alleging that sexual orientation bias violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. EEOC v. Pallet Cos. (D. MD. 2016).

As reported previously, EEOC takes the position that discrimination based on sexual orientation can fall under Title VII when the employer relies on sex-based considerations or takes gender into account when taking the challenged employment action.

The settlement will require Pallet Companies to pay $182,200 to a gay former employee who claimed she was fired for complaining about harassment based on her sexual orientation. Pallet will also conduct training, post notices, and supply employees with wallet cards with a phone number for a discrimination and harassment complaint hotline

While sexual orientation is not explicitly covered by Title VII, nearly half of all states address it under state law. Employers with questions are encouraged to call MSEC’s Employment Law Services group.