The US Supreme Court reached a landmark LGBTQ decision on June 15, 2020. The Court held that “An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII” of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. The case is Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, 590 U.S. ___ (2020).

The Supreme Court looked at the language of Title VII, which states in part that an employer cannot discriminate “because of [an employee’s] race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”  The court determined that “Because discrimination on the basis of homosexuality or transgender status requires an employer to intentionally treat individual employees differently because of their sex, an employer who intentionally penalizes an employee for being homosexual or transgender also violates Title VII.”

Potential Employer Liability in Bostock

The Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock will greatly affect employers in states who do not already have LGBTQ protections. For example, employers in California already have to comply with California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). FEHA provides protection from harassment and discrimination in employment based on (among other grounds), sex, gender (including transgender status), sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. However, if your state does not have such laws in place, it is imperative to mitigate your businesses’ potential risks. An employer should immediately review their current policies and adjust. If your company or business has employment practices that run afoul of the new supreme court ruling, consult with your employment attorney. It may be best to treat LGBTQ employees as a protected class for purposes of discrimination liability.

Religious Exemption

Title VII has a religious exemption. The Supreme Court has not yet addressed whether religious organizations have a broad right regarding exclusion of LGBTQ workers. This matter is still being litigated. If you are a religious organization, you may wish to consult with your employment attorney regarding best practice.

If your business needs assistance in employment matters, please contact Hackler Flynn & Associates.

DISCLAIMER: Content within this post should not be considered legal advice and is for informational purposes only. Communications made through this post do not create an attorney-client relationship. Hackler Flynn & Associates is not responsible for any content that you may access from third-party resources that may be accessed through or linked to this post. Hackler Flynn & Associates is only licensed to practice in California.

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