U.S. Supreme Court rules LGBTQ+ employees are protected from employment discrimination under Title VII
In a landmark decision for LGBTQ+ rights in the United States, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 15, 2020, that federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees for being gay or transgender. The six-three decision, delivered by Justice Gorsuch, holds that these workers are now protected against discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Title VII prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin and sex. The decision expands the definition of sex to include sexual orientation and transgender status. The U.S. Supreme Court explains that when an employer discriminates against gay or transgender employees, it is because of “traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex.” Therefore, “[s]ex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”
This is a major development in federal employment discrimination law. We recommend that employers review and, if necessary, revise their employment policies, including their harassment policies, to make sure that they are in compliance with this decision. Bricker & Eckler will continue to provide pertinent updates as this decision is applied and interpreted in future case law, statutes and regulations.Download PDF