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Briefcase: The Civil Rights Act And Sexual Orientation

Guest, Dean Leonard Baynes.


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As significant cases dealing with sexual orientation continue to go through the courts, Dean Leonard Baynes with the University of Houston Law Center explains what the law states in this week's episode.

"Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin," Dean Baynes said. "It does not specifically prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity."

"The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission expanded sex discrimination to include those protected classes," Baynes continued. "The EEOC interprets Supreme Court case law on gender stereotyping as including sexual orientation and gender identity.

Federal courts also have been grappling with this issue. In Georgia, a federal court found that a gay employee was not protected from discrimination, while an Illinois court extended the protection.

The U. S. Supreme Court will ultimately decide whether these rights can be extended by the EEOC, by the courts or by Congress."