EEOC settles landmark sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit

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LGBTQ Nation

BALTIMORE (AP) — A landmark lawsuit alleging sex discrimination based on sexual orientation has been settled for more than $200,000, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced Tuesday.

The EEOC said in a statement that Pallet Companies, doing business as IFCO Systems, will pay just over $182,000 to Yolanda Boone, who alleged she was fired after complaining that her supervisor made comments regarding her sexual orientation and appearance. The EEOC said in its lawsuit filed earlier this year in Baltimore that Boone’s supervisor made comments including “I want to turn you back into a woman” and “You would look good in a dress.”

The EEOC says IFCO Systems, which supplies and recycles wood pallets, will also donate $20,000 to a foundation set up by the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy group. The EEOC says IFCO Systems, which has its North America headquarters in Tampa, Florida, has agreed to hire someone to develop a training program on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workplace issues.

In a court document explaining the settlement, IFCO Systems denies that it discriminated against Boone but agrees to the settlement terms. In a statement released through a lawyer, the company noted it did not admit to any discrimination, harassment or retaliation. The statement says that the company’s core values and corporate code of conduct have “long recognized the value of preventing sexual orientation discrimination and the benefit of ensuring diversity in the workplace.”

EEOC General Counsel David Lopez said in a statement that the settlement was the first resolution of a lawsuit challenging discrimination based on sexual orientation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The EEOC’s lawsuit says IFCO Systems hired Boone as a forklift operator in 2013 and fired her in 2014.

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