‘Answer Is Clear’: Title VII Forbids Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

On June 15, 2020, in the month and year that marks the 50th anniversary of LGBTQ+ Pride traditions, the Supreme Court held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In the 6-3 decision authored by Trump-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch, the Court said that Title VII’s message is simple: “[a]n individual’s homosexuality or transgender status is not relevant to employment decisions . . . [and] it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.” Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, 590 U.S. ___ (2020).

This opinion resolves a circuit split arising from decisions by the Second, Sixth and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeal. In each case, an employer fired a long-time employee shortly after the employee disclosed being “homosexual” or “transgender” and allegedly for no reason other than the employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

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