SCOTUS ISSUES A LANDMARK DECISION—LGBTQ EMPLOYEES PROTECTED BY TITLE VII

June 16, 2020

On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a landmark decision, holding that “[a]n 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,” which is “exactly what Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964] forbids.”  Bostock v Clayton County, 590 U.S. ___ (2020).

Title VII 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.” 42 U. S. C. §2000e–2(a)(1).”  In Bostock, three employees were fired from their employment for being homosexual or transgender.  The issue in each of the cases was whether “whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender.”  Bostock, 590 U.S. at ___.  The answer, the Supreme Court held, is simple: “An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII.”  The Supreme Court reasoned that discrimination based on homosexuality or transgender status inherently involves an employer intentionally treating the employee differently because of their sex.  That is, an employer who discriminates against homosexual or transgender employees necessarily and intentionally applies sex-based rules.

Bostock is a landmark decision that, hopefully, will promote equality in the years to come.  Now, LGBTQ employees are protected by Title VII.  If you or someone you know has experienced any unlawful discrimination in the workplace, call our office at 616.608.3061 or contact us through our website’s contact page for a free consultation.