The Supreme Court ruled on June 15, 2020, that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQ+ employees based on gender identity and sexual orientation. While California law already prohibited discrimination based on gender identity, sexual orientation and gender expression, the court ruling extends those protections to all states and the District of Columbia.
The Supreme Court’s ruling was based on three separate cases. One of these cases involved a transgender woman named Aimee Stephens, who was fired from her job at a funeral home because she was not going to be representing herself as a man. Previously, the lower court had ruled in favor of Aimee Stephens, stating that firing an employee based on his or her gender identity is in part based on the person’s sex, which is a legally protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The other two cases involved gay men who claimed that they had been fired due to their sexual orientation.
Ultimately, the opinion written by Justice Neil Gorsuch states that sex plays a necessary role when discriminating against an employee for his or her gender identity or sexual orientation. According to the opinion, a person who is fired for being homosexual or transgender would not have been fired had he or she been a different sex.
If an employee believes he or she was fired from a job due to his or her gender identity or sexual orientation, an employment law attorney may assist with determining if that employee has a case against the employer. The attorney may begin an investigation that looks at the employer’s hiring or firing records to determine if there is a pattern of discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Further, the attorney may gather evidence, such as texts or emails the employer may have sent to the employee.