Massachusetts anti-discrimination laws explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, most other state laws and the Federal anti-discrimination law do not explicitly provide for protections based on sexual orientation. This may soon change. In a recent Seventh Circuit decision, the Appeals Court held that discriminatory conduct based on one’s sexual orientation is protected under Title VII because such discriminatory conduct is “based on one’s sex.” The court explained that discrimination based on sexual orientation is sex stereotyping meaning that an individual is treated differently for not confirming to sexual norm.
This decision opens the door for other circuits, including the First Circuit which covers most of the New England states, to provide legal protection for individuals who are harassed or treated less favorably in the workplace due to their sexual orientation.