Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity Now Protected Under Title VII

The U.S. Supreme Court on June 15, 2020, affirmed that job protections under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extend to workers who identify as LGBTQ. Writing for the 6-3 majority in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, Justice Neil Gorsuch plainly stated, “An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII.”

The decision also resolves litigation brought before the Court as Altitude Express v. Zarda and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. EEOC. Explaining the ruling, Gorsuch noted that the plain meaning of “sex” includes sexual orientation and gender representation. As a result, “A statutory violation [of Title VII] occurs if an employer intentionally relies in part on an individual employee’s sex when deciding to discharge the employee.”

IPMA-HR Executive Director Cara Woodson Welch, Esq., welcomed the ruling, saying, “This landmark case is important as it clarifies for all employers, including public sector employers, that Title VII protects LGBTQ employees against discrimination due to sexual orientation and gender.”

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