March Madness: EEOC Files Lawsuits for “Sexual Orientation” Discrimination

March Madness is in the air.  Not only are top college hoops teams dueling it out on courts across the country, but the federal government is creating its own court(room) brand of March Madness.   

On March 1, 2016, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed two lawsuits claiming “sexual orientation” discrimination.  The funny thing is – the lawsuits rely on a law that says nothing about sexual orientation!  Can you feel the “madness” setting in?  Just think of it - the federal government hauling two private companies to court and forcing them to defend themselves (with untold dollars and hours) against charges that they broke a law that does not really exist!  It’s no exaggeration to say the EEOC is dancing over the brackets to get to the Championship Game in center court!

Regardless of what your business thinks about the EEOC’s game-time strategy, it is time go get your A-game on:

1.     Take a Time Out: Review your handbook/EEO policy, and make sure it prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.  If “sexual orientation” is missing from your list, update it now.

2.     Make a Game Plan: Train your supervisors and managers.  Make sure they are familiar with your EEO policy and the various options for employees to complain about any kind of discrimination. 

3.     Execute: Investigate employee complaints with a full-court press.  Ignoring a complaint or delaying your investigation could get your business kicked out of the party.