Supreme Court Declares Sexual Orientation Discrimination Illegal in the Workplace

On June 15, 2020, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark decision—in Bostock v. Clayton County—that expanded civil rights workplace protections to members of the LGBT community.

For years, countless Americans asked, “Can I be fired for being gay or lesbian?” or “Can I be fired for being transgender?” Prior to this decision, in a majority of states, the answer to those questions was yes. Employers were legally able to fire someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The central question the Court considered was whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s prohibition of discrimination “on the basis of … sex” included sexual orientation and gender identity. In response to this question, Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch said, “the answer is clear.”

In the Court’s 6-3 opinion, Justice Gorsuch stated “[a]n employer who fires 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.”

The Court’s decision in Bostock will immediately provide federal protection to more than one million LGBT employees across the Nation, ensuring that they have recourse if their employer discriminates or retaliates against them based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Because of this decision, members of the LGBT community now have federal protection against workplace discrimination in all 50 states.

If you are an employee who has believes you have been discriminated or retaliated against based on your sexual orientation and/or gender identity, we are here to help. Please contact Teske, Katz, Kitzer, and Rochel, PLLP. We advocate on behalf of employees facing discrimination, retaliation, and whistleblower related issues in the workplace.

Abou B. Amara, Jr., Attorney