EEOC Issues Long-Awaited LGBTQ+ Guidance for Employers

June 23, 2021

It was about this time last summer when the U.S. Supreme Court extended Title VII protections to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and transgender status. Now the federal agency tasked with enforcing these new protections has clarified just what the new protections mean for employers.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released the information last Tuesday to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the landmark Bostock court decision. The comprehensive nature of the release, which includes a webpage, multiple fact sheets, and an administrative guidance document, underscores the agency’s commitment to vigorously upholding these new protections.

Much of the guidance outlines some FAQs regarding prohibited employer conduct. Here are a number of examples:

  • An employer may not exclude transgender employees from the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
  • An employer may not discriminate against a potential or current LGBTQ+ employee solely because customers or clients would prefer to work with people with a different sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • It would also “be discriminatory to keep LGBTQ+ employees out of public-facing positions.”
  • An employer may not require that a transgender employee dress in a way that is inconsistent with their gender identity.
  • The intentional and repeated use of the wrong pronoun to refer to a transgender employee could contribute to an unlawful hostile work environment.

Special thanks to Lucas Sczygelski for his assistance with this article.  For more information or guidance on how to navigate these issues, do not hesitate to contact our Employment team.

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