There are many protected categories under the federal employment discrimination laws, but none of those laws mentions “sexual orientation” as a protected category. Versions of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (“ENDA”), which would explicitly prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, have been introduced in almost every session of Congress since about 1994. However, the legislation has never made it to the President’s desk.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), federal legislation explicitly prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation is unnecessary because such discrimination is already prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (“Title VII”). In a December 2, 2014 blog post, we wrote about a decision issued by the EEOC against a federal agency (the Bureau of Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) holding that transgender discrimination is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the EEOC has now also issued a decision against another federal agency (the Federal Aviation Administration) on July 16, 2015, holding that sexual orientation discrimination is also a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII. Continue Reading