A controversial issue may be making its way through the federal court system. Discrimination on the basis of one’s sexual orientation, which is prohibited by California law, is not necessarily protected under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Indeed, sex discrimination is outlawed under federal law, but a growing chorus is seeking that it be expanded to include preferences based on one’s sexual preferences.
A recent federal court ruling may just do that. The lawsuit, brought by a Library of Congress employee who complained of “sex stereotyping” by his supervisor, and that he was subjected to a hostile work environment because of it. As such, he sought remedies under Title VII. However, the government sought to dismiss the case; explaining that the employee failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted (under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure) because sexual orientation discrimination was not covered under Title VII.
The court essentially agreed with the employee’s argument; that his supervisor was condemning him because for not fitting into a traditional gender role, which in and of itself, was sex discrimination. It would also suggest that this type of sex stereotyping fits within the definition of sex discrimination.
The case still has a ways to go. After all, the government could seek summary judgment before the matter goes to trial, but the ruling to keep the matter in play is a sign that courts may be handling discrimination cases based on sexual orientation differently.
Source: Slate.com “A groundbreaking court ruling suggests that anti-gay job discrimination is already illegal,” Mark Joseph Stern, Apr. 3, 2014