The EEOC announced Monday that it has filed its first two sex discrimination lawsuits based on sexual orientation.  The EEOC has sued Scott Medical Health Care Center, a pain-control and weight-loss clinic in Pennsylvania and a Maryland branch of IFCO Systems, a global pallet company.

In the case against Scott Medical, the EEOC alleges that a gay male telemarketer, Dale Baxley, was subjected to harassment because of his sexual orientation.  According to its press release, the EEOC stated that the employee’s manager frequently used anti-gay slurs and “other highly offensive comments about his sexuality and sex life.”  When Baxley complained to the clinical director, no action was taken to stop the harassment, and instead, the director reasoned that Baxley’s manager was “just doing his job.”

Similarly, in the EEOC’s claim against IFCO, the EEOC charged that a lesbian employee, Yolanda Boone, was harassed due to her sexual orientation and appearance.  The EEOC alleges that her manager made comments such as, “I want to turn you back into a woman” and asked if Boone was male or female. The manager is also alleged to have made inappropriate and suggestive remarks.  Boone registered her complaints to management and also called an employee hotline about the harassment.  She was asked to resign a few days later, but when she refused, she was fired.

These cases are significant since this is the first time the EEOC has filed suits alleging sex discrimination based on sexual orientation.  Last year, the EEOC issued a landmark ruling that discrimination against gay, lesbian and bisexual employees is against federal law, namely, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and sexual orientation discrimination, by its nature, is considered discrimination because of sex.