On June 15, 2020, in a landmark ruling with a 6-3 sweeping vote on the case of Bostock v. Clayton County, GA., the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that “an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law. ”
In the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII prohibits all forms of discrimination because of sex. However, it has been a long debated question of whether discrimination against the LGBT+ community qualifies as sex discrimination. The Supreme court states “few in 1964 would have expected any discrimination against homosexual and transgender people. It has been an unexpected problem when the law enacted.”
In court cases involving LGBT+ discrimination, the ambiguous interpretation of “because of sex” has caused decades of arguments among liberal and conservative judges. “Since 1964, Congress has considered several proposals to add sexual orientation to Title VII’s list of protected characteristics, but until now, no such amendment has become law.” the Court said.
Finally, today, the Supreme court decided to rule in favor of protecting the LGBT+ community from work discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
“We agree that homosexuality and transgender status are distinct concepts from sex. 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.”
“Title VII’s effects have unfolded with far-reaching consequences, some likely beyond what many in Congress or elsewhere expected.”
“Ours is a society of written laws. Judges are not free to overlook plain statutory commands on the strength of nothing more than suppositions about intentions or guesswork about expectations. In Title VII, Congress adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employee’s sex when deciding to fire that employee. We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.”
YK Law Insight:
This landmark ruling means from now on, the U.S. federal law will define discrimination against employees based on their LGBT+ status as violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
YK law recommends U.S. companies consult us for guidance in reviewing employment contracts, examining management policies on hiring and firing, and compliance with the latest federal law.
Full Judgement: Bostock v. Clayton County, GA.