On Monday, June 15th, the Supreme Court ruled that it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The 6-3 ruling, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Neil Gorsuch joining the four liberal justices in the majority, adds LGBTQ employees to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion 

Writing for the majority, Gorsuch argued that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is fundamentally no different than discrimination based on sex.

“An individual’s homosexuality or transgender status is not relevant to employment decisions,” Gorsuch wrote. “That’s because it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.”

“We agree that homosexuality and transgender status are distinct concepts from sex,” he added later. “But, as we’ve seen, discrimination based on homosexuality or transgender status necessarily entails discrimination based on sex; the first cannot happen without the second.”

“Discrimination against employees, either because of their failure to conform to sex stereotypes or their transgender and transitioning status, is illegal under Title VII,” the court said. “It is analytically impossible to fire an employee based on that employee’s status as a transgender person without being motivated, at least in part, by the employee’s sex.”

The Supreme Court reached the decision after considering a trio of cases, all filed in 2018:

Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda https://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/altitude-express-inc-v-zarda/

Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia https://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/bostock-v-clayton-county-georgia/

R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission https://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/r-g-g-r-harris-funeral-homes-inc-v-equal-opportunity-employment-commission/


If you have general questions about the decision, please contact the OSBA division of legal services.

Posted by Van D. Keating on 6/15/2020