EEOC Sexual Orientation Discrimination Lawsuit Claims Worker Forced To Quit Due To Homophobic Slurs
Having represented employment discrimination victims for more than twenty years, our Marion County, Florida LGBTQ discrimination attorneys know that employees are often targeted for harassment because of their sexual orientation. In its landmark decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, 140 S.Ct. 1731 (2020), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status constitutes unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). In this article, our Ocala, Florida LGBTQ discrimination lawyers explain how a sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit recently filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) demonstrates that employees are protected from harassment on the basis of their sexual orientation.
Employment Discrimination Lawsuit
In a press release issued on August 12, 2021, the EEOC announced that it has filed a sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit against Neighborhood Restaurant Partners Florida, LLC, doing business as Applebee’s (Applebee’s). On August 12, 2021, the EEOC filed the sexual orientation discrimination, U.S. E.E.O.C. v. Neighborhood Restaurant Partners Florida, LLC, Case No. 8:21-cv-01931, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
Protection From Sexual Orientation Harassment
The EEOC brought the sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit pursuant to Title VII on behalf of a former employee of Applebee’s, a male employee named Teague. Under Title VII, it is an unlawful employment practice for employers to discriminate against employees on the basis of sex. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination forbidden by Title VII. In holding that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII, the Supreme Court in Bostock also determined that harassment on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination forbidden by Title VII.
Harassment Victims Entitled To Quit
Under Title VII, once an employer knows or should know that an employee is being harassed on the basis of sexual orientation, the employer is obligated to take prompt and effective corrective action to stop the harassment and prevent the harassment from recurring. When an employer fails to take prompt and effective correction action to end the harassment, Title VII does not require employees to continue working in a discriminatory abusive work environment. Instead, Title VII authorizes employees to resign because of the intolerable discriminatory working conditions. When an employee is compelled to quit because of intolerable discriminatory working conditions, the employee has been constructively discharged in violation of Title VII.
Worker Claims Hostile Work Environment
The EEOC claims that Applebee’s violated Title VII by subjecting Teague to hostile work environment harassment based on his sexual orientation. Teague, who is gay, began working for Applebee’s as a line cook in March 2019. While working at Applebee’s, Teague maintains that he was subjected to harassment about his sexual orientation on a near daily basis by two male co-workers. The alleged harassment towards Teague because of his sexual orientation included homophobic slurs, graphic sexual remarks, and inappropriate jokes about his sexual orientation.
Teague contends that he complained to management about the harassment, but was told to “ignore it” and the co-workers were just joking around. Towards the end of Teague’s employment, according to the EEOC, the restaurant manager purportedly conducted an investigation into Teague’s complaint. However, the EEOC claims that Applebee’s does not have any notes of that alleged investigation. The EEOC further contends that the restaurant manager retaliated against Teague for complaining about the harassment by cutting his hours in retaliation. Because of the continuous harassment and retaliatory reduction in hours, the EEOC maintains that Teague was forced to resign his employment in June 2019. Thus, the EEOC also contends that Teague was constructively discharged in violation of Title VII.
Lawyers For LGBTQ Rights
The EEOC is the administrative agency of the federal government responsible for interpreting and enforcing federal employment discrimination law. In order to deter employers from engaging in unlawful employment practices and vindicate employee rights, the EEOC brings lawsuits in federal court on behalf of employment discrimination victims, including employees who have been discriminated against based on sexual orientation.
In a press release issued by the EEOC on August 12, 2021 regarding the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s Miami District Office, Robert E. Weisberg, noted that “over one year ago, the Supreme Court ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, that the protections of Title VII [ ] apply to individuals who are discriminated against in the workplace based on their sexual orientation.” “The EEOC will aggressively investigate,” Mr. Weisberg added, “and, if necessary, prosecute employers that violate the rights of their LGBTQ employees.”
Ocala, FL LGBTQ Discrimination Attorneys
Based in Ocala, Florida and representing workers throughout Central Florida, our Marion County, Florida LGBTQ discrimination attorneys have fought for the rights of employment discrimination victims for more than twenty years. If you have been discriminated against based on sexual orientation or have questions about your protection from sexual orientation discrimination under federal employment discrimination law, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Ocala, Florida LGBTQ discrimination lawyers. Our employment and labor law attorneys sexual orientation discrimination cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.