The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will hold firm to its interpretation that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits workplace sexual orientation discrimination, EEOC Acting Chair Victoria Lipnic announced last week. This announcement puts the EEOC at odds with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which announced a contrary position recently.
Lipnic does not anticipate that a soon to be Republican majority of voting members on the Commission will change this position.
Lipnic was not troubled by the split in interpretations of the DOJ and the EEOC and described it as “perfectly legitimate.” She said sexual orientation protection is an “open legal question” that she expects to be addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the next year or year-and-a-half.
For employers, who mainly deal with the EEOC, this announcement signals that there will be no change from the agency’s enforcement position on this issue over the last several years.