Tumblr Icon RSS Icon

Federal Judge: Sexual Orientation Can Be Protected Under Existing Sex Nondiscrimination Law

Posted on

"Federal Judge: Sexual Orientation Can Be Protected Under Existing Sex Nondiscrimination Law"

Share:

google plus icon
Library of Congress Reading Room

Library of Congress Reading Room

CREDIT: Shutterstock/Galina Mikhalishina

A federal judge has ruled that an individual who has experienced discrimination based on his sexual orientation could find relief under the protections already provided under law for sex discrimination. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act has previously not applied to sexual orientation, but has been used in cases of stereotyping and harassment, includes same-sex harassment.

The preliminary ruling comes in the case of Peter TerVeer, who is suing the Library of Congress (LOC), claiming he experienced a hostile environment and retaliation from his boss, John Mech, after he came out as gay. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly has not ruled on TerVeer’s actual claims, but has determined that she is willing to consider sexual orientation discrimination under Title VII:

Title VII prohibits an employer from discriminating “against any individual . . . because of such individual’s . . . sex.” Under Title VII, allegations that an employer is discriminating against an employee based on the employee’s non-conformity with sex stereotypes are sufficient to establish a viable sex discrimination claim.

Here, Plaintiff has alleged that he is “a homosexual male whose sexual orientation is not consistent with the Defendant’s perception of acceptable gender roles,” that his “status as a homosexual male did not conform to the Defendant’s gender stereotypes associated with men under Mech’s supervision or at the LOC,” and that “his orientation as homosexual had removed him from Mech’s preconceived definition of male.”

As Plaintiff has alleged that Defendant denied him promotions and created a hostile work environment because of Plaintiff’s nonconformity with male sex stereotypes, Plaintiff has met his burden of setting forth “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief” as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). Accordingly, the Court denies Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s sex discrimination claim (Count I) for failure to state a claim.

Kollar-Kotelly also ruled that TerVeer could be considered for relief due to religious discrimination because of Mech’s alleged attempts to impose his anti-gay religious beliefs.

Though transgender people have previously found relief under sex nondiscrimination protections, TerVeer’s case would be the first for sexual orientation. Currently, employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation remains legal in 29 states and based on gender identity in 32 states (accounting for Maryland’s newly passed legislation).

(HT: BuzzFeed.)

« »

By clicking and submitting a comment I acknowledge the ThinkProgress Privacy Policy and agree to the ThinkProgress Terms of Use. I understand that my comments are also being governed by Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, or Hotmail’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policies as applicable, which can be found here.