Odd, bizarre, contradictory, based on gossamer-thin distinctions—all these words have been used to describe the state of the law about employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.
In a case of first impression, Quigg v. Thomas County School District, the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the burden-shifting framework (known as “McDonell Douglas”) established by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 for cases involving mixed-motive discrimination claims. Instead, the Court adopted a less stringent standard, allowing claims to proceed where the plaintiff is able to show that (1) the defendant took an adverse employment action against the plaintiff and (2) a protected characteristic was a motivating factor for the adverse employment action.
In a recent decision about an appeal from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) left no question it views sexual orientation discrimination as falling within the protections of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC stated its intent to treat all sexual orientation discrimination as sex discrimination, actionable under Title VII.
The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously provided some guidance about whether conciliation efforts between the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and an employer accused of employment discrimination can be judicially reviewed. This guidance came in the case of Mach Mining, LLC, v. EEOC, decided on April 29, 2015.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced new guidelines on June 1, 2015, for restroom access for transgender workers. The guidelines, which are not official standards or regulations, set out OSHA’s best practices for employers with transgender employees. These best practices include having written policies to ensure that all employees—regardless of gender—have prompt access to appropriate sanitary facilities that correspond with the employee’s gender identity.