Sexual orientation Discrimination #32
by Ross Runkel at LawMemo
"Sexual orientation" refers to one's status as a heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual.
Title VII does not prohibit discrimination because of an individual's sexual orientation. Although Title VII prohibits discrimination because of sex, the word sex is interpreted as meaning gender (that is, being male or being female), and has nothing to do with sexuality or sexual conduct. This same idea is extended to discrimination because an individual is a transsexual or transvestite.
Sexual harassment can violate Title VII. Although most sexual harassment involves a male and a female, same-sex harassment is also illegal if it takes place because of sex (meaning gender). It should not matter that the victim (or the perpetrator) is heterosexual or homosexual, so long as the harassment is because of the victim's sex.
Title VII has been interpreted as barring employers from relying on "sexual stereotypes" such as a woman being too macho or too aggressive, when men are allowed to be that way.
Also, homosexuals, heterosexuals, and bisexuals alike enjoy the same protections against discrimination because of their sex, race, religion, national origin, disability, age, and so on.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects against discrimination because an individual's disability, specifically excludes protection from discrimination on the basis of being a homosexual, bisexual, transvestite, transsexual, or having a gender identity disorder or sexual behavior disorder.
State laws: Although federal law provides no protection against discrimination because of sexual orientation, the laws of some states and some local governments do provide such protection. Some of these laws are similar to Title VII and prohibit employers from discriminating because of sexual orientation. Some of these laws require employers to provide employees' domestic partners with the same benefits (such as health insurance) that are provided for spouses. Some do both.
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