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Employment Discrimination Blog

Monday, June 29, 2020

Supreme Court Rules Title VII Includes Protections Against LGBTQ

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. In Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme Court of the United States was asked to rule on the issue of whether “sex” included protections based on an employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The case originated based on three individual’s personal experience with facing adverse employment consequences due to being transgender or due to their sexual orientation. For instance, Gerald Bostock was a child welfare advocate in Georgia. Not long after he joined a gay softball league, he was fired. The court ended up ruling that, yes, Title VII does include protections against LGBTQ discrimination.

Supreme Court Rules Title VII Includes Protections Against LGBTQ Discrimination

On Monday, June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a landmark ruling for LGBTQ rights. In a 6-3 decision, the Court ruled that an employer is prohibited, under Title VII, from discriminating against a person because of their sexual orientation or transgender status. In the majority opinion, Justice Gorsuch explained that the straightforward application of Title VII protection from discrimination on the basis of sex is that the protection is extended to LGBTQ individuals.

Writing for the majority, Justice Gorsuch explains that”An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undistinguishable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.” That is why the court sided with what it saw as the most straightforward application of Title VII terminology.

The opinion is a pivotal turning point in LGBTQ rights in the U.S. The expansion of employment discrimination protection will be nationwide. Prior to the decision, the LGBTQ community was at the mercy of state and local laws. Some states and local governments had protections in place that prohibited LGBTQ discrimination while others did not. The Supreme Court ruling ensures nationwide protection.

In the wake of the Bostock opinion, employers should be increasingly mindful of Title VII protections, especially as they now include protections specifically for LGBTQ workers. This can mean reviewing employment policies. These policies should include sexual orientation and gender identity specifically mentioned as protected classes in company anti-discrimination policies. LGBTQ discrimination should also be included in company trainings going forward.

Bostock has ushered in a new era of employment discrimination jurisprudence. It is now the law of the land that an individual who identifies as LGBTQ cannot receive unfavorable employment treatment based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Court has made it clear that discrimination of this type will be subject to legal repercussions.

Employment Discrimination Attorneys

Bostock is a major legal development. Employers need to be aware of this case and act accordingly. If you believe that you have been the subject of discriminatory employment practices, talk to the dedicated attorneys at Pankey & Horlock. We will provide trusted legal support and answer any questions you may have. Contact us today.


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