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Court finds sexual orientation discrimination is sex discrimination November 6, 2016

1The Hon. Cathy Bissoon, District Judge for the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, has just held: “There is no more obvious form of sex stereotyping than making a determination that a person should conform to heterosexuality. As the EEOC states, “[d]iscriminating against a person because of the sex of that person’s romantic partner necessarily involves stereotypes about ‘proper’ roles in sexual relationships – that men are and should only be sexually attracted to women, not men.” (Doc. 16) at 11-12. This discriminatory evil is more than reasonably comparable to the evil identified by the Supreme Court in Price Waterhouse. Indeed, the Court finds discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is, at its very core, sex stereotyping plain and simple; there is no line separating the two. Contra Prowel, 579 F.3d at 291 (“[T]he line between sexual orientation discrimination and discrimination “because of sex” can be difficult to draw.”). It is, in the view of the undersigned, a distinction without a difference. Forcing an employee to fit into a gendered expectation – whether that expectation involves physical traits, clothing, mannerisms or sexual attraction –constitutes sex stereotyping and, under Price Waterhouse, violates Title VII. Simply put, Mr. McClendon’s alleged conduct toward Mr. Baxley “stemmed from an impermissibly cabined view of the proper behavior” of men. Price Waterhouse, 490 U.S. at 236-37. *** That someone can be subjected to a barrage of insults, humiliation, hostility and/or changes to the terms and conditions of their employment, based upon nothing more than the aggressor’s view of what it means to be a man or a woman, is exactly the evil Title VII was designed to eradicate. Because this Court concludes that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a subset of sexual stereotyping and thus covered by Title VII’s prohibitions on discrimination “because of sex,” Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss on the ground that the EEOC’s Complaint fails to state a claim for which relief can be granted will be denied.”  EEOC v. Scott Medical Health Center, No. 16-225 (W.D.Pa.).

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