Sean Towner

The United States Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling this morning. The Court held that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay and transgender workers from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Court issued its ruling in response to three (3) cases before the Court: Bostock v. Clayton County, which involved a Georgia county accused of firing a child welfare employee because he is gay; Altitude Express v. Zarda, a case involving a skydiving company that allegedly fired an instructor due to his sexual orientation; and R.G. and G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which pertained to a Michigan funeral home terminating its director who identified as female and planned to openly live as a woman.

In a 6-3 majority decision, the Court determined the Civil Rights Act’s longstanding ban on sexual discrimination also bans employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Prior to the Court’s ruling, members of the LGBT community were afforded no protection at the federal level from employment discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity. Only twenty-two (22) states and the District of Columbia have enacted statutes protecting workers based on sexual orientation. Twenty-one (21) states and the District of Columbia have statutes protecting workers from gender identity discrimination.

The Court’s majority consisted of two recent conservative appointees: Chief Justice Roberts (George W. Bush appointee) and Justice Gorsuch (Donald Trump appointee). Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Gorsuch joined the Court’s four (4) liberal justices in this ruling. Justice Gorsuch, who replaced the late Justice Scalia, authored the Court’s opinion.   

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice.