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SCOTUS Rules On Landmark LGBTQ+ Workplace Protections

A landmark decision was handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States on June 15, 2020. In a 6-3 ruling, the Court found that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees from discrimination based on sex, also extends protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This decision is historic for LGBTQ+ employees.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority decision and was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Breyer.  Justice Brett Kavanaugh filed a dissenting opinion, as did Justice Samuel Alito, who was joined by Justice Clarence Thomas. 

The decision will have significant implications in the workplace as, prior to this decision, nearly half of the states in the United States did not have protections for LGBTQ+ employees. With this decision, federal law will now provide a layer of protections for employees in those states who previously had none.         

The decision further clarified that discrimination does not have to be the sole or primary cause of adverse action by the employer for these Title VII protections to be in applied.

Moving forward, here are some items that employers should consider after the landmark decision:

  • Employers in every state are now prohibited by Title VII from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Including LGBTQ+ specific information in workplace human resource trainings will be a valuable practice.
  • Employers should continue practices of thoroughly investigating claims of LGBTQ+ discrimination.
  • Anti-harassment policies should be updated to include gender identity and sexual orientation harassment.
  • Managers must be trained to properly handle complaints regarding LGBTQ+ harassment or discrimination.

The Court’s interpretation of Title VII is consistent with the practices of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). For quite some time, the EEOC has interpreted Title VII’s prohibitions on sex discrimination to protect employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. 

You can read the full decision here.

For more information on how this ruling can impact your business and your workforce, or for assistance in updating your employee policies, contact the attorneys at McBrayer.

Cynthia L. Effinger, Member with McBrayer, is located in the firm’s Louisville office. Ms. Effinger’s practice is concentrated in the areas of employment law and commercial litigation. Her employment law practice is focused on drafting employment manuals and policies, social media, wage and hour, non-compete agreements and workplace discrimination. Ms. Effinger can be reached at ceffinger@mcbrayerfirm.com or (502) 327-5400, ext. 2316.


Claire Vujanovic
Claire M. Vujanovic, member with McBrayer, is located in the firm's Louisville office.  Ms. Vujanovic's practice is concentrated in the areas of labor and employment law and includes NLRA compliance, drafting and reviewing employment manuals and policies, drafting severance, non-compete and employment agreements, and counseling clients related to overtime and wage and hour regulations, laws and claims and workplace discrimination.  Ms. Vujanovic can be reached at cvujanovic@mcbrayerfirm.com or (502) 327-5400, ext. 2322.


Jason HollonJason R. Hollon is an Associate of McBrayer law. His law practice primary focuses in the areas of employment law, employment litigation, civil investigations and estate and trust litigation. He is in the firm's Lexington office and can be reached at jhollon@mcbrayerfirm.com or at (859) 231-8780, ext. 1147.

 

Services may be performed by others.

This article does not constitute legal advice.

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