Federal: Court Finds EEOC Guidance Unenforceable in Certain States


On July 15, 2022, the US District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee at Knoxville held that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance about sexual orientation and gender identity employment discrimination is unenforceable in certain states. However, it's still illegal for employers to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.


Temporary and Limited Ruling

The court's ruling is temporary (at least for now) and only applies in the states that sued (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia). The ruling also only controls the EEOC and doesn't prevent employees from suing for gender discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Background

In 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States held in Bostock v. Clayton County that Title VII's prohibition on employment discrimination because of sex includes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. In response, the EEOC issued guidance that elaborates on these employment protections, providing several scenarios that it considers violate Title VII. A number of states sued the EEOC about its guidance, seeking for the guidance to be thrown out. A court has now put a hold on the EEOC enforcing its guidance while the lawsuit proceeds.

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