HRM-320 Employment Law
Professor Joy Bruno
Sexual Orientation, the Time Has Come
Our founders of this great nation with one simple phrase, started this country on a journey unlike any nation has ever embarked upon. As written it was an epiphany of law that would ultimately change the world. All men are created equal. What an amazing statement. Through their wisdom Americans have continued to strive to hold true to this ideal for over two hundred years. Through our history Americans have fought toward this goal and through this debate have ended slavery, gave women the right to vote, and integrated our schools and much more. Today the struggle continues. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was key piece of legislation in our nation’s quest. It put into law the integration of schools, outlawed segregation in all public places and it also banned discriminatory practices in employment situations and it is here that fight lives on. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on religion, race, color, sex, and national origin in the workplace. In other words businesses cannot fire someone simply because there black, or because there from Pakistan. Employers can’t pass over a woman for a promotion just because she’s a woman. A Catholic businessman can’t discriminate against a Jewish applicant, but protection for gay and lesbian citizens as they endeavor to advance in the workplace is lacking under Title VII. The courts have maintained strict adherence to the determination that discrimination based on sexual orientation is not actionable under Title VII. For example, in the case of B. DeSantis v. Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Co., the plaintiffs DeSantis, Boyle, and Simard all men alleged that they were discriminated against because of their homosexuality. DeSantis claimed he was not hired by Pacific Telephone & Telegraph because he was gay, and, Boyle was forced to quit after only three month of employment due to continuous harassment from co-workers and a lack of response from supervisors to his complaints of harassing behavior. The third plaintiff Simard was forced to quit after enduring four years of harassment by both coworkers and management. They first filed complaints with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) but were rejected by the EEOC for lack of jurisdiction. The Commission maintained that sexual orientation is not a protected class under Title VII therefore they had no authority to act in the matter. The plaintiffs, DeSantis, Boyle, and Simard, filed a complaint in district court seeking declaratory, injective, and monetary relief under Title VII. The district court dismissed the complaint refusing to compel the EEOC to alter its interpretation of Title VII. Some creative attorneys have tried to use gender discrimination as a basis for protection. Sex is a protected class under Title VII. Some gay and lesbian people have filed suit alleging they were discriminated against for not being man enough or acting enough like a woman. In the landmark case Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989) the plaintiff Ann Hopkins was employed as a senior manager and had been proposed for partnership, but was eventually denied for reasons other than job performance. Ms Hopkins had in the year prior to being proposed for partner, had been a key contributor in landing a $25 million account with the Department of State. Hopkins was often praised by coworkers and clients as an outstanding professional with strong character. Ms Hopkins had been extremely successful senior manager and often worked at the partner level. Internal memos relating to the denial of partnership to Ms. Hopkins gave reasons such Ms. Hopkins was too “macho” and that she overcompensated for being a woman. In a final statement given to Ms Hopkins as the reason for the board’s decision and how to improve her chances next time, Thomas Beyer advised, Hopkins...