EEOC rules Title VII bans sexual orientation discrimination

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently issued a 3-2 ruling, finding that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids sexual orientation discrimination on the job.

The ruling is significant because several federal courts have ruled otherwise and held that sexual orientation discrimination is not covered by Title VII. The EEOC reasoned that many of the court decisions on the issue are dated and undermined by court rulings, holding that gender stereotyping does constitute sex discrimination.

EEOC rulings are not binding on courts, so it remains to be seen whether the EEOC’s decision will be adopted by federal courts. Nevertheless, the EEOC will likely investigate these types of claims. Therefore, to the extent they have not already done do, it makes sense for employers to consider updating their policies to include sexual orientation as a prohibited form of discrimination.