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Detroit EEOC office looking for ways to help LGBT employees fight discrimination

Here in Michigan, sexual orientation is not a protected class. That means that employers are not explicitly prohibited from discriminating against gay and bisexual men and women in the same way that they are prohibited from discriminating against people on the basis of sex or age, which are protected classes.

But now, it seems like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is seeking to apply some creative legal thinking to change that.

A spokeswoman for the EEOC's Detroit Field Office said her agency has been reaching out to the Detroit-area LGBT community to find cases that present a good chance for the EEOC to argue that the discrimination was made because the affected individual did not meet the employer's concept of what a man or woman should act like.

Such a case would present a chance for the EEOC to argue that the discrimination was made on the basis of sex, not sexual orientation.

The spokeswoman said the EEOC needs a strong case -- a case in which the discrimination is painfully and offensively evident - because it needs to win and establish precedent. "Precedent" is a legal term for an example that future judges and lawyers need to take into account.

We are pleased to see that the local branch of the EEOC is actively looking for ways to support and assist Michigan's LGBT community. We know that all too often, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals are the brunt of employment discrimination and we believe that the sooner such conduct can be stopped, the better.

Source: Pride Source, "EEOC Seeks Solid LGBT Discrimination Cases," Jan. 17, 2013

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