The EEOC is on a mission to expand the scope of Title VII to prohibit employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation, and that mission has been accomplished (for now) in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Writing for the Court on Friday, November 4, 2016, Judge Cathy Bissoon denied an employer’s Motion to Dismiss a former employee’s claim for sexual orientation discrimination under Title VII and effectively expanded the scope of Title VII to an area not before covered by Federal Courts within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. See U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Scott Medical Health Center, P.C., Case No. 16-CV-225 (W.D. Pa. Nov. 7, 2016) (J. Bissoon) (“Because this Court concludes that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a subset of sexual stereotyping and thus covered by Title VII’s prohibitions on discrimination ‘because of sex,’ Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss on the ground that the EEOC’s Complaint fails to state a claim for which relief can be granted will be denied.”).
Several recent settlements between the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and employers in Pennsylvania underscore the importance of proper policies and procedures in the context of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”). While neither the court nor a jury of fact-finders reached the merits of the following cases, the alleged facts and claims—and disclosed settlement amounts—remind employers to review policies and procedures to ensure that employers are compliant with the law and following best practices in their industry as to employment-related decisions.