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EEOC Creates Resources Related to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination

Businesses can use resources provided by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to educate employees and applicants on their rights, including on sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in employment.
An employer checks out resources created by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to help with training on gender identity  discrimination.

In an effort to educate employees, applicants and employers about the rights of all employees, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers, on sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in employment, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released materials for individuals and employers.

The release of these materials coincided with the one-year anniversary of the landmark decision in the U.S. Supreme Court case Bostock v. Clayton County, which held that the prohibition against sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) includes employment discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status. Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals based on sexual orientation or gender identity with respect to:

  • Hiring
  • Firing, furloughs and reductions in workforce
  • Promotions and demotions
  • Discipline
  • Training
  • Work assignments
  • Pay, overtime or other compensation
  • Fringe benefits
  • Other terms, conditions and privileges of employment

It is unlawful for an employer to create or tolerate harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity. If an employee reports such harassment by a customer or client, the employer must take steps to stop and prevent it from happening again.

Within the technical assistance document, the EEOC addresses questions such as:

  • “Could an employer’s discriminatory action be justified by customer or client preferences?” No, employers can’t take assignments away from someone because a customer would prefer to work with someone of a different sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • “May a covered employer require a transgender employee to dress in accordance with the employee’s sex assigned at birth?” No, employers cannot prohibit transgender individuals from dressing or presenting consistent with their gender identity.
  • “Could use of pronouns or names that are inconsistent with an individual’s gender identity be considered harassment?” Potentially. While accidental misuse of a transgender employee’s preferred name and pronouns does not violate Title VII, intentionally and repeatedly using the wrong name and pronouns to refer to a transgender employee could contribute to an unlawful hostile work environment.

To learn more about this topic, check out the landing page and technical assistance document.

Paychex Can Help

Employers subject to Title VII should ensure that their policies and practices comply with the EEOC’s guidance related to discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, among other things. In addition, employers should review their obligations to comply with applicable federal, state and local laws addressing employment discrimination. Paychex has a team of HR professionals who can offer support to help your business with its compliance and HR needs.  

Candace Bean

Candace Bean is a compliance analyst who concentrates on the impact of legislative and regulatory changes on employment law for Paychex, Inc.

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* This content is for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice of a qualified attorney or other professional. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments, may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date.

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