The Latest from the EEOC

Sexual Orientation Discrimination Suit

For the first time, a lawsuit has been filed against a private employer for alleged sexual orientation discrimination.  The EEOC alleges that sexual orientation discrimination is unlawful sex bias under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  The EEOC announced this on March 1, 2016. 

In one suit, a male employee was subjected to regular anti-gay epithets, and other highly offensive comments, where the employee eventually quit to avoid further harassment.  In the second case, a female employee was repeatedly harassed because of her sexual orientation and appearance by her male supervisor.  This employee made a complaint to management, but was fired a few days after making the complaints.

To learn more about these about these suits, click here.

 Retaliation Guidance

For the first time since 1998, the EEOC has proposed new enforcement guidance on retaliation in the workplace.  Five of the major changes include the following:

1.       Expands the definition of “participation protected activity.

2.       Instructs that employer-side employees are protected.

3.       Lowers the bar for harassment complaints.

4.       Rejects the “manager rule.”

5.       Promotes agency comingling.

To read the entire proposal, click here.

AT&T Lawsuit

 On March 2, 2016, the EEOC sent a press release stating that AT&T will pay a $250,000 fine, and reinstate an employee.  According to the lawsuit, AT&T employee Miguel Melendez started as a switch technician in 2001 at their San Juan Puerto Rico location, but in 2008 he became visually impaired due to his diabetes.  In 2009, his doctor cleared him to return to work, where he requested accommodation under the ADA.  AT&T did not respond to the accommodation request, and was removed from his position at work, where he wasn’t permitted to return to work. 

This case shows the importance of treating every accommodation request as serious as possible.  To learn more about this case, click here.