A former casino worker at Parx Casino took on the company in court, alleging that she suffered discrimination while employed by the casino. The individual, only identified as “Michelle Doe,” had asserted that she was routinely targeted because she is a “masculine-looking” lesbian, but the judge presiding over the case dismissed the suit. U.S. District Judge Joel Slomsky determined that “Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
Doe worked as a dealer at Parx and asserted that she routinely suffered discriminatory abuse, was ostracized by employees and wasn’t allowed to voice her grievances. She worked at the casino for over a year, ultimately being fired in August 2018. She sued, arguing that she had been working in a hostile work environment and that she was let go for being a lesbian.
Parx defended itself in court, asserting that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has previously ruled that employment discrimination based on sexual orientation is not prohibited, according to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It pointed to a case from 2001, Bibby v. Philadelphia Coca Cola Bottling, that demonstrated that Congress has “repeatedly rejected” efforts by lawmakers to allow Title VII to cover sexual orientation.
Slomsky explained, “The court agrees with Guess v. Philadelphia Housing Authority and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Scott Medical Health Center that the question of whether discrimination based on sexual orientation is actually gender stereotyping warrants serious consideration. At the heart of a sexual orientation claim is the concept that a homosexual man or woman is discriminated against or harassed for failing to conform to the traditional notion of whom they should love.… Following this logic, should not a gay man have an actionable claim if his female co-workers are permitted to date men, but he is not, simply because he’s a man? Should not a lesbian woman have an actionable claim if her male co-workers are permitted to date women, but she is not, simply because she is a woman?”
He added, “These questions are worthy of serious consideration. But, at this point, to answer them and change the law would circumvent the authority of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and deviate from the hierarchy of judicial power in the federal system.”
Parx was certainly happy with the result, but it can’t get too comfortable. Doe and her lawyer, Justin Robinette, have already stated that they’ll appeal.