In July 2017, the Department of Justice said that the Civil Rights Act did not protect workers against discrimination based on sexual orientation. When it made that statement, the department put itself at odds with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The DOJ has jurisdiction over state and local government employers throughout Texas and the rest of the U.S. while the EEOC has jurisdiction over cases involving private and federal employers.
According to LGBTQ advocacy group Lambda Legal, this may create a situation where some employers are subject to enforcement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act while others aren’t. In a brief submitted to the Supreme Court, the group asked that the judges take a look at a decision made by the 11th Circuit in the case of Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital. This court ruled 2-1 that workers were not covered by Civil Rights Act protections based on sexual discrimination simply because they were gay, lesbian or bisexual.
However, this differed from the decision made by the 7th Circuit in the case of Hively v. Ivy Tech. That case involved a skydiver who claimed his employer fired him after finding out about his sexual orientation. In a brief, the EEOC said that it stood by its earlier position that Title VII protects workers against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Those who feel as if they have been the victim of employment discrimination may be able to take legal action. Discrimination can take the form of jokes or harassing comments from colleagues. It could also take the form of being demoted or terminated after others find out about a worker’s sexual orientation. Those who have been discriminated against may be entitled to financial compensation for back pay and other damages. Individuals may also be reinstated to a position after a wrongful termination.