The United States Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate because of a person’s sex, also covers a person’s sexual orientation and transgender status. The landmark decision, which came as result of a 6-3 ruling in the case of Bostock v. Clayton County, in which a gay man was fired from his job as a social worker after participating in a gay softball league, is being hailed as a major victory for the LGBTQ community.
“In Title VII, Congress outlawed discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear. 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. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the Court’s opinion.
Gorsuch, who was President Trump’s first Supreme Court appointee, was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan in the majority opinion. Conservative Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Brett Kavanaugh dissented.
The ruling is expected to have a big impact for the estimated 8.1 million LGBTQ workers across the United States, as only 21 states have laws that protect them from workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Today’s ruling does not change those laws and they remain in force. However, federal law now provides similar protections for LGBTQ employees in the remaining states.