Protecting Workers’ Rights

Focusing on the Rights of Federal Employees

EEOC Holds Sexual Orientation Hostile Environment Is Actionable

The following case is an important recent development at the EEOC. The EEOC ruled  that a gay employee may be entitled to relief under Title VII's prohibition on sex discrimination for a claim of hostile work environment (HWE). In Veretto v. U.S. Postal Service, Mr. Veretto alleged he was subjected to a hostile work environment when Postal Service  management was nonresponsive to his request to remove from the workplace a male coworker who harassed Veretto due to his planned gay marriage.  The EEOC held that the employee's claim could be an example of a HWE based on sexual stereotyping (i.e., that a man should only marry a woman). The EEOC reversed the Postal Service's dismissal of his EEO complaint, holding that Title VII's prohibition of sex discrimination could allow for a gay employee to obtain relief if subjected to harassment motivated by sex stereotyping.  Mr. Veretto's EEO claim will now have to be investigated, and if not resolved, he should have the right to a hearing before an EEOC administrative Judge. Veretto v. U.S. Postal Service, EEOC Appeal No. 0120110873 (July 1, 2011).

This case should be a wake-up call to federal agency officials that any harassment or bullying by employees against other employees based on their sexual orientation should not be tolerated and can lead to financial liability to any agency who fails to heed this message.

If you believe that you have been the subject of a hostile work environment due to your sexual orientation, or due to any other form of discrimination such as race, religion, sex, age, disability or national origin, contact our firm to inquire about obtaining representation.  All employees should be free from a discriminatory work environment.  Looking for Representation?


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