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“An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.”

Bostock v. Clayton County, 2020

Today, in what will be viewed an historic decision, the Supreme Court of the United States held that Title VII – which prohibits sex discrimination among other protections – prohibits discrimination against gay and transgender employees. Justice Gorsuch wrote the opinion for the Court in a 6-3 decision, with Justices Thomas, Alito, and Kavanaugh dissenting.

The full opinion is available at the United States Supreme Court's website. 

The majority reasoned that an employer who fires an employee because they are gay or transgender is necessarily making a decision on the basis of sex: “it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against the individual based on sex.” It does not matter if any other factor is part of the decision; if sex is a factor – and it necessarily is when a person’s sexuality and gender identity is considered – it is unlawful discrimination. This ruling is straightforward and unequivocal.

In ruling this way, the Court also rejects any argument Title VII should not apply to homosexual and transgender individuals because the 1964 Congress who enacted it could not have envisioned such protections. Instead, the Court notes that “Congress’s key drafting choices – to focus on discrimination against individuals and not merely between groups and to hold employers liable whenever sex is a but for cause of the plaintiff’s injuries – virtually guaranteed that unexpected applications would emerge over time.”

Using this new Supreme Court guidance, our firm will continue to fight for employees who have been subjected to unlawful discrimination. If you believe you have been discriminated against at work, please contact our office.

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