This week, the United States Supreme Court declared in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, No. 17-1618 (US, Jun. 15, 2020), that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects individuals from being fired because they are homosexual or transgender. Title VII explicitly prohibits discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin,” but does not specifically name sexual orientation or gender identity as protected classes. However, in a 6-3 opinion written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the Supreme Court ruled:
An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.
Although the employers argued that such an interpretation is contrary to Congressional intent, Justice Gorsuch concluded the opinion, by stating:
[While] Title VII’s effects have unfolded with far-reaching consequences, some likely beyond what many in Congress or elsewhere expected[, …] none of this helps decide today’s cases. Ours is a society of written laws. Judges are not free to overlook plain statutory commands on the strength of nothing more than suppositions about intentions or guesswork about expectations. In Title VII, Congress adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employee’s sex when deciding to fire that employee. We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.
Bostock is a landmark ruling that will extend protections to millions of workers nationwide. As even the dissent recognized: “[The LGBT Community] can take pride in today's result.”
To read the full decision, click here.