Labor & Employment

EEOC opinion interprets gay bias as a form of sex discrimination

  • Print

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has interpreted the federal law barring workplace gender bias to include a ban on discrimination against gay workers.

The EEOC ruled last Wednesday in a 3-2 decision, the Volokh Conspiracy and the New York Times report.

“Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is premised on sex-based preferences, assumptions, expectations, stereotypes, or norms. ‘Sexual orientation’ as a concept cannot be defined or understood without reference to sex,” the opinion (PDF) said.

The EEOC opinion is contrary to the views of several federal appeals courts, according to the Volokh Conspiracy post by University of Minnesota law professor Dale Carpenter. The EEOC argues that some of those opinions have been undermined by later rulings in the same circuits allowing gender bias suits by gays who claim they were treated adversely because of gender stereotyping.

“If the EEOC’s ruling sticks,” Carpenter writes, “it will have accomplished what more than 40 years of legislative advocacy in Congress could not: full protection of gay men and lesbians from job discrimination throughout the United States.”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.