Many New York residents may be surprised to learn that legal interpretation of federal law has generally permitted discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, that could be changing soon as this interpretation is being challenged by a ruling from the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
In July, the EEOC issued a ruling on the matter following an appeals case brought by an employee with the Federal Aviation Administration. The employee had appealed a case alleging discrimination because of his sexual orientation after he was not given a promotion. In the dismissal, the FAA put forth the indication that since discrimination based on sexual orientation is not protected by Title VII in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, it did not apply. The EEOC issued a reversal of the dismissal, allowing the claim to move forward. Although the FAA is in the private sector, the EEOC's decision is federally applicable.
It must be remembered that a ruling by the EEOC does not alter federal law, nor is it binding. Congress is responsible for that. Federal agencies are bound by EEOC rulings and can persuade federal courts to follow their lead. The U.S. Supreme Court makes the final decision on how discrimination based on sexual orientation and other changes will be viewed by federal courts. The Supreme Court has yet to rule on this issue.
Since stereotypes play such a major role in how sexual orientation is treated, many LGTB workers have faced workplace discrimination. Those who believe they have not been granted a promotion or were fired because of their sexual orientation may contact an attorney. The lawyer could explain a victim's legal rights for compensation.