The EEOC has spoken — workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation is now illegal.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission made the decision Thursday, stating that employers who discriminate against LGBT workers are violating Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment-related discrimination “based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.”
“Sexual orientation discrimination is sex discrimination because it necessarily entails treating an employee less favorably because of the employee’s sex,” the EEOC concluded in a statement. For example, if a manager discriminated against a woman for displaying a photo of her wife, but not a man for showing a photo of his wife, that will be considered sex discrimination.
The EEOC also argued this week that because courts consistently ruled that racial protections related to Title VII apply to relationships, sex protections should, too. Title VII ensures that employers can’t discriminate against employees based on their spouse or friends’ races. Thursday’s ruling applies that same standard applies to sex. So your job is safe — rather you can’t be fired because of whom you date or marry.
Legally, the LGBT community is coming up roses lately, and change is definitely good. It’s too bad these new legal protections can’t protect its members from the emotional backlash and physical violence that may follow their implementation.