Legal protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation: Findings from litigation

  • Katz M
  • La Van H
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Since 1964 with the enactment of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the courts have held that although Title VII prohibits discrimination because of sex, sex has been construed to mean gender, but gender and sexual orientation are different. Traditionally sexual discrimination has been interpreted to protect women in male/female encounters. Thus protection for homosexuals based on sexual orientation has not been covered. However, there are some interesting aspects to the concept of discrimination due to sexual orientation, including defining same-sex harassment as being harassment, equal opportunity harassment, and sexual stereotypes. In addition,howhomosexualsmay be protected under state laws, unions, company policy, and the constitution is discussed as well as protection for public sector employees. An analysis of 98 litigated cases alleging discrimination based on same sex or sexual orientation harassment led to the development of a logit model predicting future case outcomes based on case characteristics. These are type of harassment, physical contact, type of employees, and whether there was equal opportunity harassment. Implications from the study are that the issues of protection from discrimination are complex and one cannot necessarily assume that this type of discrimination is not protected. Recommendations for more effective managerial actions are provided.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Logit analysis
  • Same-sex discrimination
  • Sexual harassment
  • Sexual orientation

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  • Marsha Katz

  • Helen La Van

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