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Developments at the EEOC: New Guidance on Federal LGBT Complaints

Developments at the EEOC: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recently issued new guidance concerning complaints from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees on the EEOC website. This guidance, Processing Complaints of Discrimination by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Federal Employees, caps off the Commission's long-term trend of extending the federal sector EEO complaints process to cover claims of discrimination previously excluded as 'sexual orientation' complaints.

In a series of decisions, including Veretto in July 2011, Macy in April 2012, and Couch in August 2013, the EEOC has used the 'sex stereotyping' theory to extend coverage of Title VII sex discrimination protections to many 'sexual orientation' cases previously excluded from Title VII coverage. Reflecting this line of cases, the EEOC's new guidance instructs federal agency EEO counselors to take steps to direct these LGBT claims into the federal sector EEO complaints process as Title VII sex discrimination claims. The new guidance instructs EEO counselors to automatically process claims of discrimination based on transgender status as sex discrimination claims. For claims of discrimination based on being lesbian, gay or bisexual, the guidance directs EEO counselors to work with complainants to develop their claims of discrimination in order to see if the claims can fall within the ambit of the sex stereotyping theory. The guidance also references other existing claims mechanisms for sexual orientation complaints administered by the Office of Special Counsel and by agencies under Executive Order 13087.

If you are a federal employee or applicant for federal employment and believe that you have suffered unequal treatment on the basis of your sex or sexual orientation, please contact the law firm of Passman & Kaplan, P.C. to request an initial consultation.

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