First Sexual Orientation Discrimination Decision Sets Legal Precedent

Law Firm Newswire



Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) August 23, 2016 – Baltimore’s IFCO Systems is set to pay $202,000 after the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigated sexual orientation discrimination allegations.

IFCO Systems, also known as Pallet Companies, was the subject of a sexual orientation harassment lawsuit. According to the documents, a company supervisor allegedly made discriminatory and unwanted remarks to a lesbian worker suggesting he would like to “turn [her] back into a woman” or that she “would look good in a dress.” These remarks combined with sexually suggestive gestures created a sexually hostile workplace.

The consent decree signed by IFCO in this case is the first time the EEOC has resolved an instance of discrimination based on sexual orientation. David Lopez, EEOC general counsel remarked that his organization looks “forward to the day that this fundamental right is widely recognized.”

The worker took her harassment complaint to management and was very shortly thereafter terminated from her job. “Actions such as firing a worker for filing a harassment complaint are in direct violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964),” stated Chicago employment counsel, Timothy Coffey. Title VII specifically bars discrimination on the basis of sex and the EEOC deems discrimination and harassment due to sexual orientation to be a form of sex discrimination.

The successful resolution of this case is a major victory for the EEOC as adding sexual orientation to Title VII has been a highly controversial topic nationwide. Although there are 20 states offering full legal protections and some states offering local ordinance protection, lawmakers have so far avoided extending protections any further.

It does not help that many people are not aware they have legal protection federally or locally and that various types of discrimination are illegal. Once the laws protecting sexual minorities become elevated to an awareness level where more people are clearly cognizant of their existence, attitudes may change over time. It may be a long road, much like the civil rights movement, but the EEOC case is an important part of that journey.

For further information on various state laws and federal laws in this area, visit:

Learn more at THE COFFEY LAW OFFICE, P.C. 351 W. Hubbard Street, Suite 602 Chicago, IL 60654 Call: 312.627.9700
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