In a landmark decision reflecting a potential turning of the tide for the LGBT community, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has become the first federal appeals court in the nation to hold that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII. Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, No. 3:14-cv-1791 (7th Cir. April 4, 2017). Continue Reading Seventh Circuit Breaks New Ground: Sexual Orientation Discrimination Prohibited by Title VII

Joining nearly all other federal circuit courts, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has held that Title VII does not cover discrimination based on sexual orientation. Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, 2017 WL 943925 (11th Cir. March 10, 2017). While closing the door on Title VII sexual orientation discrimination claims, the court re-affirmed that other theories of sex discrimination, such as gender non-conformity and same-sex discrimination, remain actionable. Continue Reading 11th Circuit Joins Others in Holding Sexual Orientation Discrimination Not Covered by Title VII

Just a few days ago Alex Galvan posted on our blog about the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) mission to expand Title VII’s protections to LGBT employees. As if on cue, the EEOC has now taken another next step towards completing its mission.  Last week, in a 3-2 decision, the EEOC held that Title VII prohibits employers from treating an applicant or employee differently on the basis of their sexual orientation because “sexual orientation is inseparable from an inescapably linked to sex” and as a result “[s]exual orientation discrimination is sex discrimination.”  Continue Reading Another Round: EEOC Continues Expansion of Workplace Protections for LGBT Employees

The U.S. Supreme Court’s March 25, 2015 decision in Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc. brings some clarity to the issue of whether and when employers are required to provide work-related accommodations to pregnant employees.

As employers well know, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination against an employee with respect to terms, conditions, or privileges of employment on the basis of, among other characteristics, the employee’s sex. In 1978, Congress enacted the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which clarified that unlawful sex discrimination includes discrimination “because of or on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k). The Pregnancy Discrimination Act further provides that “women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes… as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work…” Id. In Young, the Supreme Court addressed the question of whether this latter provision requires an employer to provide light-duty assignments as an accommodation to pregnant employees (who have been placed on medical restrictions as a result of their pregnancy), if the employer provides light duty assignments as an accommodation to some, but not all, other employees. Continue Reading Supreme Court Vacates Employer Victory in Pregnancy Discrimination Case

Employers should continue to proceed with caution despite the recent pro-employer decision in EEOC v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc., a closely-watched case in which the EEOC alleged that CVS’ standard separation agreement interfered with the rights of former employees to file an EEOC charge or participate in an EEOC investigation. Although summary judgment was granted in favor of CVS by Judge John W. Darrah of the Northern District of Illinois, the court chose not to address the merits of the case, and instead dismissed the lawsuit on procedural grounds based on the EEOC’s failure to conciliate the case prior to filing its lawsuit. Continue Reading EEOC Loses on Procedural Grounds in Hotly Contested Case Challenging CVS Pharmacy Separation Agreement

On July 14, 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a detailed Enforcement Guidance on pregnancy discrimination and related issues (the Guidance). The Guidance addresses an employer’s obligations relating to pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which amended Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other laws. The text of the Guidance is available here. Portions of the Guidance are summarized below. Continue Reading EEOC Issues Sweeping Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination

On March 6, 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released new guidance for employers addressing an employer’s obligation under Title VII to provide reasonable religious garb and grooming accommodations to employees and applicants upon request.

The guidance reaffirms the EEOC’s position that employers are required to accommodate employee and applicant requests for reasonable religious accommodations related to their garb or grooming, where the employee’s religious belief is sincerely held and where granting the accommodation would not pose an undue hardship on the employer. This could include requests to wear items such as religious garments, articles or symbols, and may also include an employee’s refusal to wear certain clothing, such as pants or shorts. Requests related to religious grooming may relate to, among other things, religious shaving or hair length observances. Continue Reading EEOC Issues New Guidance on Religious Garb and Grooming

In the second of two recent Title VII harassment cases, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided that a supervisor need not have hiring or firing authority in order to create liability for failing to respond properly to a harassment complaint. Lambert v. Peri Formworks Sys., Inc., Case No. 12-2502 (7th Cir., 7/24/13). The decision comes on the heels of last month’s U.S. Supreme Court decision that clarified that a supervisor must have authority to make tangible employment decisions, such as hiring, firing and discipline, in order for that supervisor to create strict liability for the employer for his or her own harassing conduct. See [U.S. Supreme Court Defines “Supervisor” Status for Purposes of Assessing Harassment Liability Under Title VII] Continue Reading Seventh Circuit Sexual Harassment Decision Highlights Importance of Employee Training

In a Title VII harassment case, an important preliminary question is whether the individual accused of harassment is the employee’s supervisor, in which case the employer is strictly liable for any harassing conduct that results in a negative employment action, or whether the accused is a non-supervisory co-worker, in which case the employer can avail itself of certain defenses such as implementation of an effective anti-harassment policy and complaint procedure. On June 24, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Vance v. Ball State University, No. 11-556, 570 U. S. __ (2013), which answers the important question of when an employee will be considered a “supervisor” for purposes of assessing Title VII liability for harassment. Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Defines “Supervisor” Status for Purposes of Assessing Harassment Liability Under Title VII