California employees may be interested to learn that an anti-gay workplace discrimination case in Pennsylvania was allowed to proceed on the basis that it violated Title VII's protections. However, the district court judge also noted that the case had an interesting juxtaposition with racial discrimination.
The case was brought against Scott Medical Health Center by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after an employee subjected a subordinate employee to alleged incidents of harassment. This included incidents of using anti-gay slurs. Further, the comments reportedly turned sexual. The EEOC argued that having to hear these types of comments multiple times throughout the week caused the work environment to be hostile. The EEOC also argued that sex stereotyping, whereby an employee is required to make his or her appearance conform to their sex, is also a form of discrimination and violates Title VII.
Additionally, the judge noted that the EEOC drew a compelling comparison between anti-gay discrimination and interracial relationships. In 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit stated that Title VII also prohibits discrimination based on who an employee is in a relationship with.
Workplace discrimination is unfortunately a pernicious problem across the country. Courts are still divided as to whether gender identity is covered by the protections of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and while the EEOC has consistently taken the position that it is covered, courts are not bound by the agency's belief. However, some victories have been obtained, and people who have been the target of this kind of discrimination may want to meet with an attorney in order to learn about the options that they may have.