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EEOC and DOJ take separate stances on workplace discrimination

California residents may remember that the Department of Justice declared in July 2017 that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 doesn't protect against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. This was a departure from the views of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission . At the time, this split was considered to be unusual. This is because both agencies are tasked with defending the civil rights of workers.

In early September, Lambda Legal asked the Supreme Court to review a decision based on the theory espoused by the DOJ. Specifically, it asked for a review of a March 2017 decision made by the 11th Circuit in the case of Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital. The court ruled 2-1 that sex discrimination protection based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act did not extend to discrimination based on a person being gay, lesbian or bisexual.

Lambda pointed out that the 7th Circuit came to a different conclusion in April 2017 in the case of Hively v. Ivy Tech. Lambda argues that because the EEOC and DOJ take different positions on who is protected by Title VII, private companies and the federal government could be held liable for violations by the EEOC. At the same time, state and local governments may not need to fear enforcement of discrimination laws because they are under DOJ jurisdiction.

Whether an employee works for a private or government entity, employment law generally guards against harassment on the job. If an employee believes that he or she has been discriminated against, an attorney may be able to determine if the worker has a case and if so, the steps that should be taken.

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