Harassment on the basis of sexual orientation has been largely ignored in the workplace but this is changing.
Gays, lesbians and transgender workers are not mentioned as a “protected class” under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion and national origin. And no federal anti-bullying or anti-harassment laws or regulations protect workers who are not members of a protected class. So workers who were targeted for harassment because they were perceived to be gay, lesbian or transgender historically had little recourse against cruel and harmful harassment.
But the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) last year held that Title VII’s “broad prohibition of discrimination” on the basis of sex “will offer coverage to lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals in certain circumstances.”
The EEOC ruling was made in a case filed by Leon Brooker, a clerk at a U.S. Postal Service distribution service in Atlanta, GA, who has been forced to wage a lonely but important legal battle to be free from sexual orientation harassment. [Read more…]