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Maryland is Home of Landmark EEOC Sexual-Orientation Settlement

A Maryland-based employer will pay $202,200 and provide other equitable relief to settle an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court for the District of Maryland, alleging sex discrimination based on sexual orientation. The lawsuit was one of the first claims filed in court by the EEOC alleging that a private employer violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by treating an employee differently because of his or her sexual orientation.

The case involved a lesbian employee who was a forklift operator at the employer’s Baltimore facility and claimed that she was repeatedly harassed by her supervisor because of her sexual orientation. The supervisor allegedly made numerous comments to her regarding her appearance and sexual orientation, such as “I want to turn you back into a woman” and “You would look good in a dress.” EEOC alleges that the supervisor further made sexually suggestive gestures to the employee.

After the employee complained to management and called the employee hotline to report the harassment, the employer retaliated by firing her just days later.

Title VII prohibits discrimination because of sex or retaliation. The EEOC, as the federal law enforcement agency charged with interpreting and enforcing Title VII, subsequently has concluded that harassment and other discrimination because of sexual orientation is also prohibited sex discrimination. (The EEOC’s press release on the issue can be accessed at: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/6-28-16.cfm.)

If you have any questions or seek information about sexual orientation discrimination or any other types of employment discrimination, contact Lebau & Neuworth at 888-456-2529 or lebauneuworth.com/contact-us.

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