Business-Minded Legal Solutions

Landmark LGBTQ decision from Supreme Court

Workplace discrimination can be a complicated subject both for employers and employees. For some groups of people, there have been protections when they experience discrimination in the workplace.

In a recent Supreme Court decision, the LGBTQ community celebrated a victory becoming one of the protected groups. The decision means that Title VII of the Civil Rights act of 1964 includes gay and transgender people.

Here’s how this important decision impacts employers.

Bostock vs. Clay County, Georgia

The case started as three separate cases in 2015. The plaintiffs, Gerald Bostock, a county employee fired for being gay, Donald Zarda, a skydiving instructor who was fired for mentioning he was gay, and Aimee Stephens, a funeral home employee who had initially presented herself as male, was fired after telling her employer that she planned to “live and work full-time as a woman.”

As it went through the lower courts, the case got mixed verdicts until landing in the Supreme Court last year. In mid-June, the Court found for the plaintiffs in a 6-3 ruling. The result means that the Court agrees that sexual orientation and gender identification are protected under Title VII.

The link to biological sex

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from discrimination for inherent traits such as race, color, sex, national origin and religion. The idea is that people have little or no control over these traits, and they should not suffer discrimination based on them.

In this case, the plaintiffs’ attorneys argued that gender identity and sexual orientation are similar to the other characteristics covered in Title VII and should receive the same protections. The Supreme Court agreed.

While there are still issues where it is still unclear about whether gender identity and sexual orientation fall under sex discrimination, the decision was an important one for the LGBTQ community.