Supreme Court Rules LGBTQ+ Workers Protected Under 1964 Civil Rights Act
On June 15, 2020, the United States Supreme Court ruled against the Trump administration, declaring that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees. The vote was 6-3, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointee, joining the liberal bloc in the majority.
President Trump’s administration had advocated against this interpretation, siding with employers in three separate cases in lower courts. Two of those cases involved claiming they were unjustly fired due to their sexual orientation. The other involved an employee who was fired weeks after coming out to her boss as transgender.
The Court’s majority opinion, written by Justice Gorsuch, indicated the Civil Rights Act bars discrimination in employment stemming from religion, race, national origin, or sex, with LGBTQ+ workers falling into the latter category. He conceded that the Congress that passed the law likely did not necessarily mean to include LGBTQ+ individuals in its definition of “sex” but pointed to other expansionist interpretations of the law, including a later court decision that prohibited sexual harassment of both men and women.
Justice Gorsuch did note that some employers might harbor valid objections to hiring LGBTQ+ employees on religious grounds. He suggested employers in such a scenario might find relief in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.
Even with that caveat, the decision represents a tremendous win for LGBTQ+ rights across the United States. Nearly half of states have no specific LGTBTQ+ employee protections on the books, and now workers there will have some recourse if they face discrimination in the workplace as a result of their sexual or gender orientations. It remains to be seen how the decision’s consequences ultimately play out across the country, but LGBTQ+ activists were encouraged by the ruling and expect larger corporations will be deterred from attempting to fire or otherwise adversely limit homosexual or transgender employees on the basis of their orientation.
Hire Experienced Employment Attorneys
Facing a workplace issue like retaliation or wrongful termination can be stressful and frightening enough, even more so if the action is the result of your sexual or gender orientation. If you have faced employer discrimination, the legal team at Cleveland Lehner Cassidy wants to help.
Our employment law attorneys have helped many clients throughout the state of Indiana advocate for their rights, and we are committed to providing your case the compassionate, individualized focus it deserves. We offer a complimentary online questionnaire that can help determine if you have a case we can assist with, and we also are happy to offer free phone consultations.
The recent Supreme Court decision only gives us more tools to fight for justice on behalf of our LGBTQ+ community. If you believe you were fired or retaliated against on the basis of your sexual or gender orientation, give us a call at (317) 406-0855 or contact us online.