While sexual orientation has been a protected characteristic in some states for many years, the rights of LGBTQ workers were not previously protected on a federal level. That all changed on Monday, June 15, 2020, when the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a landmark decision in Bostock v. Clayton County and extended the protection of federal civil rights law to gay, lesbian, and transgender workers.
The Supreme Court held, in a 6-3 ruling, that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which bars employment discrimination based on race, religion, national origin and sex, extends to discrimination claims of gender identity and sexual orientation. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote:
“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.”
What This Means in Tennessee
Before this landmark ruling, Tennessee laws and federal employment laws did not prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Now, employees who are discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity can file a lawsuit.
If you have been discriminated against due to your gender identity or sexual orientation, our team Donati Law, PLLC now has access to a law we can use to protect your rights. This is good news for our clients who have been wrongfully terminated or have experienced discrimination in the workplace for these reasons.
The Law of the Land
LGBTQ advocates and supportive politicians are pleased by the decision, calling it “a landmark victory for #LGBTQ equality,” “a momentous step forward for our country,” and “a step towards affirming the dignity of transgender people, and all LGBTQ people.” The ruling benefits the approximately 1 million workers who identify as transgender and the 7.1 million lesbian, gay, and bisexual workers in the United States.
What Inspired the Change
The Supreme Court ruling was based on multiple different cases in which gay and transgender employees were fired when their employers discovered their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. While some of the original claimants passed away before they could enjoy this victory, their contributions to civil rights legislation will be celebrated by many.
How to Protect Your Rights
To honor the bravery of those who fought and contributed to workplace equality, you can take every action to protect your rights.
If you were fired on the basis of your gender identity or sexual orientation, call our attorneys at (901) 209-5500. We can discuss how this verdict affects your case, and we will fight hard for your rights.
We’ve been protecting clients from employment discrimination for more than 35 years, and we are honored to fight for workplace fairness for LGBTQ employees.
Contact us today to get started.