US Supreme Court Rules Title VII Protects LGBTQ+ Employees from Discrimination
On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County. In the majority opinion written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the Court held that Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQ+ employees from termination due to sexual orientation or gender identity. The Opinion addressed three factually similar cases from the federal Courts of Appeals, where an employer terminated a plaintiff after learning of their sexual orientation/gender identity. This opinion of the Court was a landmark decision and is of notable importance in the workplace.
The Court has paved the way for LGBTQ+ employees to pursue Title VII actions when employers terminate or discriminate against them based upon their sexual orientation or gender identity. Generally, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act already prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, sex, and nationality. The Court has expanded its application when it stated: “[The Court agrees] that homosexuality and transgender status are distinct concepts from sex. But, as we've seen, discrimination based on homosexuality or transgender status necessarily entails discrimination based on sex; the first cannot happen without the second.” “When an employer fires an employee for being homosexual or transgender, it necessarily intentionally discriminates against that individual in part because of sex.”
While the vast majority of employers already have policies prohibiting discrimination based upon sexual orientation or gender identity, businesses should take note of this decision and make sure to incorporate such policies into their hiring and employment practices. Employees, conversely, now have more protection in the workplace from discrimination based on one’s LBQT+ status.
Whether an employer or employee, Ziegler & Schneider is committed to navigating you through this monumental law change to Title VII claims and an attorney is available to discuss any questions that you may have.