Last year, the EEOC received 517 sex discrimination charges based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Federal law doesn’t explicitly prohibit discrimination or retaliation against an employee based on the employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity. However, even without specific enumeration, the EEOC claims that sexual orientation and gender identity are already protected because they fall within the laws definition of “sex.” The Obama Administration has endorsed the federal Equality Act, which is currently pending in Congress. The Act could amend a number of federal laws, including portions Civil Rights Act, by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes. Employers should understand, even without explicit federal protection, several state and local  governments  have  recently  added sexual orientation and gender identity to their list of protected classes.