In a landmark ruling on June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, agreed on extended protections for gay and transgender workers under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.
Title VII is a federal law protecting employees against discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Until the ruling, circuit courts of appeal were divided on whether “sex” included an employee’s gender identity or sexual orientation. In one of the most consequential issues of the term, the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic ruling will extend federal civil rights laws to cover the LGBTQ+ community.
Justice Neil M. Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion, joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Stephen G. Breyer, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Elena Kagan. Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented, in addition to Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who in a separate dissent, argued that although there are good arguments to amend Title VII to protect individuals against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, the decision should be made by Congress.
“Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear,” Justice Gorsuch wrote. “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.”
To read the ruling, click here.
The court’s decision was based on three cases involving claims of employment discrimination, after long-time employees lost their jobs shortly after revealing to their employers that they were homosexual or transgender.
- Employer Insights: DOL Guidance on Tracking and Compensating Teleworkers
- Returning to Work Under the New COVID-19 Standards
- Supreme Court Ruling Protects LGBTQ+ Employees from Workplace Discrimination
- EEOC's Updated Technical Assistance Q&A Guidance - COVID-19 and the ADA
- Updated Guidance on Return-To-Work Standards, Confidentiality and ADA Accommodations
- Employer Insights: Unemployment Insurance Provision Updates under the CARES Act
- Labor & Employment Considerations in the Wake of COVID-19
- Supreme Court to Hear Landmark LGBTQ Cases
- The Truth Behind Those Helmets – Assisting Retired NFL Players in Navigating the Concussion Settlement Process
- FMLA Tip For Every Employer’s Radar: Caring for a Grandparent with a Serious Health Condition