Sexual Orientation Discrimination in Baltimore is Illegal

September 8, 2017
The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford

Gray construction site

According to a September 2016 article in The Baltimore Sun, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, filed a sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit against private employers.  This lawsuit marks the first time that the EEOC has accused private employers of sexual orientation discrimination.

The EEOC filed a federal suit in both Baltimore and Pittsburgh in September of 2016. It asked the courts to acknowledge that the employers violated the civil rights of gay and lesbian employees. According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers are prohibited from discriminating against their employees based on their color, sex, race, nationality, and religion. Although sexual orientation is not expressly included in the plain text, the EEOC takes the position that sexual orientation discrimination is prohibited under Title VII based on sex.

One of the lawsuits, against Pallet Companies, which operates as IFCO Systems North America, focused on a female employee who was allegedly fired after she complained she was harassed for being a lesbian. The female employee was hired as a forklift operator in 2013, and her sexual orientation was allegedly known by her co-workers. She alleged that her supervisor made many comments about her appearance and sexual orientation. The company strongly denied the allegations.

In contrast with Title VII on the federal level, Maryland and more than 30 other states have specific laws that expressly prohibit employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay, and bisexual employees as a result of their sexual orientation.


Is Baltimore Gender Discrimination the same as Sexual Orientation Discrimination?

No. Sexual orientation discrimination is the act of treating an employee differently and negatively based on who that employee prefers sexually. Gender discrimination occurs when an employer treats an employee differently and in a negative way based on being either a woman or a man.

Is it Illegal for Every Employer in Baltimore to Discriminate against the LGBTQ Community?

Title VII covers employers with 15 or more employees.  As a result, on the federal level, not every employer is subject to the prohibitions of Title VII. Additionally, until the U.S. Supreme Court issues a definitive interpretation on whether sexual orientation discrimination is covered under Title VII or until Congress amends the statute, the position taken by the EEOC ─ sexual orientation discrimination is prohibited under Title VII ─ is tenuous, at best.    

Baltimore Sexual Orientation Discrimination Prohibits Different Treatment

Baltimore sexual orientation discrimination involves treating an employee differently based on who he or she is interested in sexually. Some things employers cannot do include, but are not limited to, treating the employee differently regarding:

    • Employment
    • Firing
    • Transferring from one position to another
    • Discipline
    • Retirement
    • Job assignments
    • Training
    • Promotions
    • Working conditions
  • Performance evaluations


The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, LLC

You have probably attempted to resolve your employment discrimination issue on your own. You may have tried to negotiate, avoid, or confront your employer about discriminating against you because of your sexual orientation. Contact the attorneys at The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, LLC via our website or via telephone at 410-514-6099 so that we can fight for you. No one deserves to be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.

(image courtesy of Leo Fosdal)