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Suit seeks to expand EEOC ruling on sex orientation job bias

Earlier this summer, we observed that one of the next great battlegrounds over gay rights would focus on the workplace. As one post from July 9 noted, the advances that have been realized in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision on gay marriage have not necessarily translated into employment.

Many in California know that lesbian, gay and transgender individuals continue to face discrimination in the workplace because of sexual orientation issues. While recent actions by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Obama administration make clear that job discrimination based on sexual orientation won't be tolerated among federal agencies and their contractors, protections in the private sector are not as robust.

A nudge for change could result, however, if a former Federal Aviation Administration worker has his way. He has filed suit in federal court alleging that the FAA bypassed him for promotion because he is gay. In fact, it's reported that it was his case that led the EEOC to declare that discrimination based on sexual orientation is already illegal under existing civil rights law.

That decision only applies to federal agencies and plaintiff David Baldwin's attorney says the suit is "the next logical step." He says Baldwin's goal is to see the scope of the EEOC determination expanded to include nongovernment employees.

The claim in the suit is that Baldwin coworkers objected to his talking about his same-sex partner while on the job, though no one ever complained when discussions occurred around opposite-sex relationships. He also alleges that he missed out on a permanent management position in the control tower at Miami International Airport.

Baldwin is seeking a jury trial and is asking for back pay, damages and legal fees.

Source: Advocate.com, "Former FAA Employee Sues, Alleging Antigay Discrimination," Trudy Ring, Oct. 19, 2015