In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that Title VII includes protections for gay and transgender workers. Writing for the majority, Justice Gorsuch reasoned that discrimination based on an employee being gay or transgender necessarily involves that employee’s sex and therefore Title VII applies.
The Court found that if any part of an employer’s decision is based on an employee’s gay or transgender status, it could be problematic. “It makes no difference if other factors besides the plaintiff’s sex contributed to the decision or that the employer treated women as a group the same when compared to men as a group.” Put simply, the employee’s sex need not be the sole or primary basis for the decision for Title VII protections to apply.
As a result of this decision, an employee may turn to Title VII in cases where their employer intentionally discriminates against them because they are gay or transgender. Importantly, the employers in these cases did not dispute that they were terminating their employees because they were gay or transgender. Instead, the employers argued that Title VII did not protect these characteristics. The Court disagreed.
For more information, please contact any of our employment law attorneys.