Title VII Prohibits LGBTQ Discrimination

In a historic win
for the LGBTQ community, the U.S. Supreme Court held a 6-3 ruling on June 15th,
2020, and determined that employment discrimination on the basis of a worker’s
sexual orientation or gender is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
of 1964. This act had outlawed workplace discrimination, including harassment,
based on protected characters, such as race, color, national origin, religion,
and sex. Sexual orientation and gender identity are now seen as an extension of
this.  

The question of
whether Title VII prohibited LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace has been one
of the highest-profile debates in U.S. Employment law. The Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has long maintained that LGBTQ discrimination was
prohibited by Title VII, but prior lower courts have ruled differently. Justice
Gorsuch said that Title VII’s legal analysis “asks simply whether sex is a but-for cause” of discrimination;
“An employer who discriminates against homosexual or transgender employees
necessarily and intentionally applies sex-based rules.”

In short, this
ruling means federally-mandated equal treatment for LGBTQ employees.  Any employers whose current policies do not
provide for this nondiscrimination will need to update them to explicitly
include sexual orientation and gender identities. It is also advised for
employers to include sexual orientation and transgender status in
anti-harassment and harassment complaint processes.

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