United States Supreme Court Extends Title VII Protection On The Basis Of Sexual Orientation, Sexual Identity, And Transgender Status

On June 15, 2020, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, GA, in which the Court examined three separate cases and found that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1) (“Title VII”) protects employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, sexual identity, and transgender status. The facts of the three underlying cases were the same – an employer had fired an employee shortly after the employee revealed that he or she was a homosexual or transgender and allegedly for no reason other than the employee’s homosexuality or transgender status. The Court examined whether these employment actions were legal under Title VII and held that an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates the law. The Court found that Congress “had adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employee’s sex when deciding to fire that employee” and that employment decisions based on an employee’s sexual orientation, sexual identity or transgender status were based on sex. The Court’s pronouncement on this issue was clear: “An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.”

This decision is effective immediately. Employer handbooks and policies must be revised to comply with this ruling. Please contact a Keller Thoma attorney at (313) 965-7610, should you have any questions or would like to discuss further.

Categories: Case Alerts, KT