New Federal Guidance Will Help Fight Workplace Harassment Against LGBTQ+ People

by Delphine Luneau

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Updates Guidelines for First Time Since 1999 to Include Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity Among Protected Characteristics

WASHINGTON — The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — praised the release yesterday of new guidance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that updates longstanding guidance on workplace harassment to align with the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Bostock v. Clayton County (2020).

Among other provisions, the EEOC’s updated guidance makes clear that sex-based harassment, which is already prohibited under federal law, includes mistreatment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. In practice, that means that LGBTQ+ people will be able to better assert legal protections against instances of physical assault due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, forced outing, intentional misgendering, and even workplace policies denying them access to a bathroom or other sex-segregated facility consistent with their gender identity.

In response to the updated rule, Kelley Robinson, Human Rights Campaign President, released the following statement:

“Workplace harassment can so easily be devastating to LGBTQ+ people, whether it comes from managers or peers or others on the job. This mistreatment can vary greatly, and it’s especially prevalent in the form of intentional misgendering or deadnaming for transgender and nonbinary people. Combined with the difficulties that many LGBTQ+ people have in finding employment, members of our community can feel trapped in cycles of harassment with no options to get away from it. This new EEOC guidance should make it clear to all employers: they have an obligation to provide a workplace free from harassment for all employees – without exception.”

Workplace harassment and discrimination are major concerns for members of the LGBTQ+ community. Research shows that U.S. employees are 4.5 times more likely to want to work at a company if it publicly supports and demonstrates a commitment to expanding and protecting LGBTQ+ rights. On the flipside, research shows that more than 52% of Gen Z and millennials who were unsatisfied with the progress their current organization was making in creating a diverse and inclusive environment stated they intended to leave their job within two years.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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