When an LGBT employee is punished for complaining about discrimination in the workplace, he or she has two potential causes of action under Title VII: first, a challenge to the underlying discrimination, and second, a challenge to the resulting retaliation. The first claim is vulnerable to dismissal under courts’ narrow interpretation of Title VII’s prohibition of discrimination “because of sex” as applied to LGBT plaintiffs. But such an outcome need not determine the fate of the second claim. Faithful application of retaliation law’s “reasonable belief” standard, which protects a plaintiff from reprisal so long as she reasonably believed that she was complaining about unlawful discrimination, should allow LGBT plaintiffs to successfully challenge the reprisal, even if the court determines that the underlying discrimination was not “because of sex.” This Article provides several arguments in support of such reasonable belief, in order to strengthen both the law’s protection from retaliation in general as well as the challenges of obtaining relief for workplace discrimination against LGBT individuals.
Erin E. Buzuvis, Reasonable Belief: In Support of LGBT Plaintiffs' Title VII Retaliation Claims, 91 DENV. U. L. REV. 929 (2014).