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The Supreme Court’s Bostock Decision and LGBTQ+ Rights in the Workplace

As most of you know, on June 15, 2020, the US Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga.  This decision finally clarifies a patchwork situation where employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, transgender identity, gender transition, gender identity, and gender expression were prohibited in some jurisdictions, cities and states, and not prohibited in others.

Under the new ruling, the court now has made clear that Title VII’s ban on discrimination “because of  . . . sex” is violated by discrimination based on sexual orientation or transgender status as a matter of Federal law that will apply nationwide.  Specifically, the court stated,  “[a]n individual’s homosexuality or transgender status is not relevant to employment decisions. That’s because it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.” 

This decision only interprets Title VII (employment discrimination), however, as Justice Alito stated in his dissenting opinion, it is  likely to have a ripple  effect on over 100 other federal laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex (public accommodations, the ACA, Title IX, etc.). With this in mind, our general advice would be to err on the side of assuming that all people protected by this language in Title VII will also be protected under these other laws going forward.  

We recommend that you review your policies on discrimination in employment and your equal employment opportunity statements to ensure they comply with this new ruling. You should also reinforce with your supervisors that sexual orientation, transgender identity, gender transition, gender identity and gender expression are all categories that are protected under the law. 

Greater Good embraces this outcome as an advancement of justice for the LGBTQ+ community. We are here to help you adapt as needed. If we can be of assistance or if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.