Neither federal law nor what’s on the books in more than half the states — including Pennsylvania — includes specific protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workers. But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has decided the “sex” part of the employment discrimination ban based on “race, color, religion, sex, and national origin” in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 covers it.
But the issue isn’t settled. The move, announced without fanfare this past week by the EEOC, is persuasive but not binding on federal courts. “The Third Circuit Court of Appeals back in 2001 ruled that sexual orientation is not covered under this federal anti-discrimination statute,” explains Eric Meyer, law partner with Dilworth Paxson’s labor and employment practice in Philadelphia. “So this EEOC decision does nothing to change that. But it may be persuasive to encourage the Third Circuit going forward to change their mind.” MORE