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EEOC Guidance on Protections Against Employment Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity

Fri, October 08, 2021 12:13 PM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

Written by: David E. Schwartz and Kimberly Franko Lower

On June 15, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidance explaining its views on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton Cnty., 140 S. Ct. 1731 (2020), and clarifying employers’ legal obligations with respect to LGBTQ+ workers. In the landmark Bostock decision, the Supreme Court held that the prohibition against sex discrimination under 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. Specifically, the new guidance from the EEOC (EEOC Guidance) explains that an employer may not discriminate against an employee on the basis of gender identity by prohibiting an employee from dressing consistent with the employee’s gender identity; by denying an employee equal access to a bathroom consistent with that employee’s gender identity; or by refusing to use pronouns or names consistent with the employee’s gender identity. With many employers returning to the office over the next several weeks, New York employers should consider how to implement the EEOC Guidance, as well as similar state and city laws.

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