In a landmark decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled today in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia that gay and transgender employees are protected by federal anti-discrimination laws.
Thus, as of June 15, 2020, public and private employers are prohibited from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) employees on the basis of their sexual orientation or identity.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it “unlawful … for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual … because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” Prior to the Bostock decision, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency charged with enforcing Title VII, interpreted Title VII to apply to LGBTQ employees, but federal courts were split on the issue.
In Bostock, the Supreme Court held that discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity constitutes unlawful discrimination “because of sex” under Title VII. The majority opinion written by Justice Neil M. Gorsuch explains, “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 undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”
Employers are encouraged to update their policies and practices to ensure compliance with this decision.
If you have questions or concerns, please contact Maureen Carr at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not contain or convey legal advice. Consult a lawyer. Any views or opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and are not necessarily the views of any client.