Supreme Court Rules That Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Prohibits Employment Discrimination Against Gay and Transgender Individuals

By now, you’ve likely heard about the landmark Supreme Court ruling issued last week in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia. Bostock is a consolidation of three cases involving employees who were fired either for being gay or transgender. In a 6-3 opinion written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the Court stated that “it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.” Of course, discrimination on the basis of sex is specifically prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Court goes on to state that “In Title VII, Congress adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employee’s sex when deciding to fire that employee. We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.” 

What does this mean for you as an employer? If you operate in one of the dozens of states or localities that already prohibited workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity, not much should change. If, however, you do not already include LGBTQ+ protections in your company’s equal employment opportunity and anti-harassment policies, now is the time to update those to comply with the new law (assuming you are a covered employer, meaning you have 15 or more employees, and you are not a religious organization subject to the ministerial exception). You should also update your training materials to ensure supervisors and employees are familiar with the implications of this ruling on your EEO and anti-harassment policies.

This blog article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Contact myHRcounsel with questions concerning specific facts and circumstances.

 Written by: Brittany Nicholls