The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is suing an Arizona restaurant for discrimination against two employees. According to the lawsuit, the Scottsdale restaurant intentionally made a hostile work environment for employees who were suspected to be gay.
The lawsuit alleges that the restaurant allowed discrimination such as name-calling, lewd comments and physical assault by co-workers. When the incidents were reported to the restaurant supervisors, they were told not to complain, lost tables and then were ultimately fired.
Sexual orientation discrimination is defined as harassment or differential treatment based on someone’s perceived or actual sexual orientation. Many workplaces and states have laws against sexual orientation discrimination but Arizona does not have a statewide law that prohibits it.
There are federal laws that protect against race, sex, national origin, age, religion, pregnancy status, and disability workplace discrimination, but there are currently no federal laws prohibiting private sector sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace. There have been several proposals to enact these types of laws but they have yet to be passed.
In 2015, the EEOC started interpreting the ban on sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual orientation discrimination. They argue that discrimination based on preconceived notions about men and women is unacceptable and will continue to fight for those who are discriminated against for their sexual orientation.