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GLAD Applauds EEOC Ruling: Title VII Sex Discrimination Prohibition Includes Sexual Orientation

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a critical ruling that discrimination based on an employee’s sexual orientation violates the prohibition on sex discrimination in Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act.

The landmark July 16 ruling recognizes that federal employees who experience discrimination because of their sexual orientation have a claim under Title VII and signals to courts throughout the country that discrimination based on sexual orientation by definition constitutes sex discrimination.

“GLAD has long argued that LGBT employees are covered under Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination,” said Executive Director Janson Wu. “This ruling joins 2012’s landmark Macy decision – in which the EEOC ruled that the federal prohibition against sex discrimination includes gender identity and expression – in strengthening the case that LGBT people can seek relief for employment discrimination under federal law.”

Last week, GLAD filed a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court under Title VII against retail giant Walmart for discriminating against employees who were married to same-sex spouses by denying their spouses health insurance benefits.The class representative, Jackie Cote, was denied spousal health insurance for her wife, Dee, who has battled ovarian cancer since 2012.  Due to Walmart’s sex discrimination, Dee lacked health insurance to pay for her treatment and has racked up a minimum of $150,000 in uninsured medical expenses.

“A positive outcome in this case will not only help Jackie and other past and present Walmart employees who experienced the same discrimination,” added Wu, “it will provide further clarification from a federal court that sexual orientation discrimination cannot be tolerated. Through both litigation and advocating for strong state and federal legislation, GLAD is committed to ensuring comprehensive protections for all LGBT people in employment and every other area of life.”