EEOC Marks Pride Month, Bostock Anniversary

Author: Emily Scace, Brightmine Legal Editor

June 17, 2022

Charlotte A. Burrows, chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), released a statement in honor of Pride Month and the second anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Bostock v. Clayton County highlighting the agency's ongoing work to combat employment discrimination against LGBTQ individuals.

In Bostock, the Supreme Court held that discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation or transgender status constitutes discrimination based on sex and therefore violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While some states had previously incorporated protections against such discrimination into their fair employment laws, lower federal courts before the Bostock decision had divided on the question of whether Title VII should be interpreted to reach sexual orientation and gender identity.

According to the EEOC, in fiscal year 2021 the Commission recovered approximately $9.2 million for complainants alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity across more than 400 cases - the highest number since the EEOC began tracking in 2013.

The EEOC has also published guidance addressing issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in the workplace, such as bathroom and locker room access, pronoun use and dress codes. The Commission has also added a non-binary gender marker to the voluntary demographic questions asked during the intake process when an individual files a charge of discrimination.

The EEOC emphasized that work remains to be done, and discrimination against LGBTQ individuals unfortunately persists. For example:

  • The EEOC brought a lawsuit against an Applebee's franchise in August 2021 for allegedly subjecting a black gay employee to harassment based on his sexual orientation and race and retaliating when he complained.
  • In October 2021, a furniture manufacturer agreed to pay $60,000, provide EEO training and revise its policies to resolve a finding of gender identity discrimination after an investigation concluded that the company did not hire a job applicant because he was transgender.
  • In March 2021, a family-owned fruit farm and a farm labor contractor agreed to pay $40,000 and $55,000, respectively, to resolve claims that it disciplined two female employees, singled them out because of their sexual orientation, required them to segregate from other employees and subjected them to harassment.