LGBT charges are rolling in, EEOC Commissioner says

Chai Feldblum, a Commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, recently presented an update on the EEOC's handling of charges alleging sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination.

At the meeting, reported this week in Bloomberg BNA, Commissioner Feldblum said that the EEOC is now tracking the intake and resolution of these charges, which I'll refer to collectively as "LGBT charges."

From January 1 through June 30 of this year, Feldblum said, the agency had received 459 sexual orientation charges and 81 gender identity charges. In calendar year 2013, the agency received 834 sexual orientation and 199 gender identity charges.

Chai Feldblum
EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum

As of September 18, 2014, 614 LGBT charges had been resolved: Eleven with "cause determinations," 68 settlements, three conciliations, and 18 withdrawals "with benefits to the charging party." If my math is correct, that means the EEOC issued dismissals and notices of rights in most of the resolutions this year (514 of 614).

As most employers know, until recently the EEOC refused to accept LGBT charges against private employers because federal law does not explicitly address this type of discrimination. However, the agency has recently changed its practice, primarily because of court decisions interpreting Title VII to treat "sexual stereotyping" as an unlawful form of sex discrimination.

The statistics cited by Commissioner Feldblum don't appear to be available on the EEOC's website, but you can read about the agency's enforcement position on gender identity discrimination here. And the EEOC recently filed a brief in a case pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit contending that even discrimination based on sexual orientation was a form of unlawful sex stereotyping. (The Seventh Circuit hears appeals from federal district courts in the states of Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.)

Commissioner Feldblum spoke at PLI's Employment Law Institute on Monday.

Robin Shea has 30 years' experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act). 
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