- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has charged an Ohio care facility group with discriminating against a former maintenance director due to his sexual orientation, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Aspire Regional Partners, Inc. et al, No. 2:22-cv-03071 (S.D. Ohio Aug. 8, 2022)).
- According to the complaint, the employee, hired in October 2019, performed his job well and never received an unsatisfactory evaluation or was put on a performance improvement plan. After a new regional director was hired the following April, the employee was singled out and had his responsibilities and access to resources reduced, limiting his ability to perform his role. The employee was asked to resign and refused, shortly after which he was fired, the complaint said.
- “The EEOC has long been a leader in challenging discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, including through our litigation in cases leading to the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Bostock v. Clayton County,” EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows said in a statement. “This case continues our work to make Bostock’s promise a reality nationwide.”
In June 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Title VII protection extends to employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in its landmark Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia decision. The recent EEOC case is among the handful that have drawn on the ruling since it was handed down.
Federal interest in protections for LGBTQ individuals has grown in the wake of the ruling and following the most recent change in presidential administrations. In April 2021, a representative from the U.S. Department of Justice said the agency would “vigorously enforce” prohibitions on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, a reversal from its stated pre-Bostock stance under the Trump administration.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Equality Act (H.R. 5) in February 2021 — legislation intended to reaffirm LGBTQ protections in employment, as well as other public arenas — although that bill stalled.
The evolution of LGBTQ protections post-Bostock has met some resistance, however; in July, a Tennessee judge granted a motion for a preliminary injunction filed by 20 states to block enforcement of an EEOC technical assistance document meant to guide employers on Title VII’s post-Bostock application. The judge determined that the document — among others issued under the Biden administration — “directly interfere[d]” with states’ ability to enforce their laws as written. In particular, he drew attention to policies related to dress codes and bathroom usage.