On June 28, 2016, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it had settled one of its first lawsuits alleging sexual orientation discrimination. The settlement—in the form of a consent decree—requires Pallet Companies, doing business as IFCO Systems (IFCO), to pay $202,200 in addition to a number of nonmonetary requirements. This landmark decree comes less than a year after the EEOC first concluded that discrimination on the basis of an employee’s sexual orientation amounted to sex discrimination.
I know, I know. I’ve already blogged about this subject—about how employers shouldn’t be asking about family medical history. But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has once again charged an employer with violating the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). And the employer also asked questions about the disabilities of applicants in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
As the summer drew to a close, the EEOC continued to aggressively pursue claims of pregnancy discrimination, filing a total of eight lawsuits involving pregnancy-related discrimination in the month of September alone. These cases range from New Mexico to Georgia and include a wide variety of employers from a commercial moving company to a temporary staffing agency to a home healthcare provider. Despite these differences, however, a common thread throughout the cases is the consistent “no tolerance” position of the EEOC related to pregnancy discrimination. This policy prohibits discrimination based on (a) current pregnancies, (b) past pregnancies, (c) potential or intended pregnancies, and (d) medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.
In a recent decision about an appeal from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) left no question it views sexual orientation discrimination as falling within the protections of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC stated its intent to treat all sexual orientation discrimination as sex discrimination, actionable under Title VII.
Last month, Lanier Ford attorney Lauren Smith wrote about the EEOC’s federal-sector decisions involving application of the anti-discrimination protections of Title VII to transgender employees. The blog post noted that the federal-sector decision was not binding on private employers, but nonetheless gives important insight into the EEOC’s position on this issue.