In a landmark 6-3 decision authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the United States Supreme Court ruled today that Title VII, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate because of a person’s sex (among other categories), also protects employees from workplace discrimination due to sexual orientation, gender identity and transgender status.
“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,” Justice Gorsuch wrote for the Court. “Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision – exactly what Title VII forbids.”
He also wrote: “only the written word is law, and all persons are entitled to its benefit”
Before the Court’s ruling, many employers had already voluntarily enacted policies prohibiting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and transgender status. If you have not reviewed your policies in a while, now is a good time to take a look at your employee handbooks with a critical eye to see if your workplace would benefit from a handbook update and from additional training to ensure compliance with these new workplace protections.
Please contact any member of the DEF Employment Law Team if you need assistance on this front.