The U.S. Supreme Court handed LGBTQ and civil Rights advocates a monumental victory Monday, holding that the federal Civil Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on gender, indeed, protects workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Trump appointee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, joined the Court’s liberal members in a 6-3 vote, and wrote the opinion in a trio of linked cases, finding that the ban on discrimination “because of … sex” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act covers sexual orientation and gender identity. The reliance on the portion of the Civil Rights Act, “because of … sex,” is the same section Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg emphasized when she argued for women’s rights as a lawyer before she joined the Court.
“Title VII makes it ‘unlawful . . . for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual . . . because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin,'” the Court held. “The straightforward application of Title VII’s terms interpreted in accord … with their ordinary public meaning at the time of their enactment resolves these cases.”
The decision will have a wide-reaching impact, especially because each State and many Counties have their own sets of civil rights statutes and State Courts follow the interpretations of the federal statute when they construe their own state statutes.
Employers of 15 or more employers will be bound to comply. An avalanche of lawsuits can be expected. Employers should update handbooks, provide training, and obtain Employer Practices Liability Insurance (“EPLI”) to be in compliance and protected accordingly.
Schwarzberg & Associates provides employment law compliance and defense assistance. We have extensive experience in developing effective policies, procedures, and proactive responsive measures to deal with a myriad of workplace issues. Please do not hesitate to contact Steve Schwarzberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or (561) 659-3300.