Supreme Court Decides LGBTQ Are Protected From Workplace Discrimination
Supreme Court Decides LGBTQ Are Protected From Workplace Discrimination

In a landmark 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court of the United States held that workplace discrimination on the basis of an employee’s LGBTQ status is in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The Court’s opinion can be found here.

Until now, workers in more than half the states lacked legal protection from employment discrimination based on their LGBTQ status.  The Court’s decision rests on a strict reading of Title VII’s prohibition of discrimination on the basis of “sex”.  It concludes that extending that “sex” prohibition to include discrimination on the basis of an employee’s LGBTQ identification or expression was a “necessary consequence” of Congress’s choice to adopt such broad language.  Now, employees throughout the U.S. are protected from discriminatory workplace decisions (e.g., hiring and firing) based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Although the decision is groundbreaking, California was among at least 20 other states that already had discrimination protections for LGBTQ workers before the Supreme Court’s recent ruling.  California’s state law protections for LGBTQ workers can be found in its Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), and its protections are more specific and broader in scope than those in Title VII.  (See, e.g., our past article covering FEHA’s expanded protections for transgender employees.)  The effect of the Supreme Court’s decision for LGBTQ employees in California and other states with existing protections is that these employees may now seek relief under both their state’s statute and Title VII. 

This blog is presented under protest by the law firm of Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP. It is essentially the random thoughts and opinions of someone who lives in the trenches of the war that often is employment law–he/she may well be a little shell-shocked. So if you are thinking “woohoo, I just landed some free legal advice that will fix all my problems!”, think again. This is commentary, people, a sketchy overview of some current legal issue with a dose of humor, but commentary nonetheless; as if Dennis Miller were a lawyer…and still mildly amusing. No legal advice here; you would have to pay real US currency for that (unless you are my mom, and even then there are limits). But feel free to contact us with your questions and comments—who knows, we might even answer you. And if you want to spread this stuff around, feel free to do so, but please keep it in its present form (‘cause you can’t mess with this kind of poetry). Big news: Copyright 2020. All rights reserved; yep, all of them.

If you have any questions regarding this blog, contact kbrooks@ecjlaw.com of ECJ’s Employment Law Department.

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