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Supreme Court Rules Title VII Forbids Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation or Transgender Status

2020-06-16

Surprising ruling from conservative court is a major victory for advocates of gay rights

In a landmark decision, with a vote of 6-3 the Supreme Court makes it illegal for employers to discriminate because of an individual’s sex, which covers sexual orientation and transgender status.   The high court upheld rulings from lower courts that said sexual orientation discrimination was a form of sex discrimination.   The decision was written by President Trump appointee, Neil Gorsuch, who said “an employer who fired 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.” 

Currently, 22 states plus the District of Columbia have their own laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity but this ruling confirms that the federal law provides similar protection for LGBTQ employees throughout the United States.  According to UCLA’s Williams Institute, the LGBTQ community is made up of approximately 1 million workers who identify as transgender and 7.1 million lesbian, gay and bisexual workers. 

The foregoing has been prepared for the general information of clients and friends of Workplace Dynamics LLC and is not being represented as being all-inclusive or complete. It has been abridged from legislation, administrative ruling, agency directives, and other information provided by the government. It is not meant to provide legal advice with respect to any specific matter and should not be acted upon without professional counsel.