Warn against mocking sexual orientation.

Date01 September 2017

While the courts sort out whether sexual orientation is a protected category under Title VII, employers should take steps to prevent harassment and retaliation based on sexual orientation and gender stereotyping.

Regardless of sexual orientation's uncertain protected status, it is well-settled that mocking someone's nonconformity to society's gender stereotypes is sex discrimination.

Recent case: Frank, who is gay, worked as an activity director in a Pennsylvania nursing home. His supervisor, upon learning of Frank's sexual orientation, began mocking Frank by calling him Frances while speaking in a high-pitched feminine voice. Frank frequently asked the supervisor to stop, but he did not.

Then the supervisor fired Frank, allegedly for sleeping on the job.

Frank sued, alleging sex discrimination based on sexual stereotyping and retaliation for complaining.

He pointed out that his disciplinary record was clean and that the supervisor failed to follow the company's progressive discipline system when he fired Frank. The nursing home...

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