US commission rules anti-gay workplace discrimination is illegal

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation is banned under federal law, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled.

The Commission ruled this Wednesday in a 17-page decision that such discrimination is illegal.

Voting 3-2, it found that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes anti-gay discrimination as a form of discrimination.

“Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is premised on sex-based preferences, assumptions, expectations, stereotypes or norms,” the opinion read.

“‘Sexual orientation’ as a concept cannot be defined or understood without reference to sex.”

Previous court decisions clash with the ruling, and suggested that “sexual orientation” is not recognised under nondiscrimination law.

The ruling affects recruitment, dismissal and promotion decisions as well as working conditions.

This means, federally, anti-gay discrimination is banned, however only 22 out of the 50 US states currently ban such discrimination under state law.

“This ruling is likely to have enormous positive effects because EEOC interpretations of the Title VII are highly persuasive to the courts,” said Greg Nevins of Lambda Legal’s in a statement.

“They tend to be predictive,” he went on.

“Given the clarity and logic of this opinion… most courts are likely to stop simply referring to old, illogical rulings about the Title VII coverage. A few may disagree, but most probably will be guided by the Commission’s straightforward approach.”