LGBT Resources for You Employers
By Christina M. Reger, Esq.
Last week, in observance of LGBTQ+ Pride Month, and the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County,the EEOC announced new resources to educate employers, employees and applicants about the rights of all employees, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers, to be free from sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in employment.
So hot off the presses, here it is:
- A new landing page on the EEOC website that consolidates information concerning sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination.
- A new technical assistance document to help the public understand the Bostock decision and established EEOC positions.
The Technical Assistance is much like the FAQs that I know all of you like so much. Of particular interest is the answer to this question: Could an employer’s discriminatory action be justified by customer or client preferences?
No. As a general matter, an employer covered by Title VII is not allowed to fire, refuse to hire, or take assignments away from someone (or discriminate in any other way) because customers or clients would prefer to work with people who have a different sexual orientation or gender identity. Employers also are not allowed to segregate employees based on actual or perceived customer preferences. (For example, it would be discriminatory to keep LGBTQ+ employees out of public-facing positions, or to direct these employees toward certain stores or geographic areas.)
So be careful employers, relying on client preference in assigning workers may be a bit like walking in a legal landmine.
“All people, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, deserve an opportunity to work in an environment free from harassment or other discrimination,” EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows said. “The Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County is a historic milestone that resulted from the struggle, sacrifice, and vision of many brave LGBTQ+ individuals and allies who had championed civil rights for the LGBTQ+ communities. The new information will make it easier for people to understand their rights and responsibilities related to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”