Updated: Jan 30, 2021
On Monday, June 15th 2020, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also covers sexual orientation and transgender status under the category of 'sex'. (NBC News) This is a historic ruling that now protects LGTBQ persons from workplace discrimination.
Prior to this ruling, "sex" was a protected category covered under the Title VII law, but there continued to be debate at lower courts whether sexual orientation or transgender status was covered as well. At the local level, some good news came in April 2017, when the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that “…discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination” as stated by Judge Diane Wood. (Source: CNN website) While this ruling could not be applied nation-wide, it did support all persons within the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals area, which includes the states of Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.
Another win against this type of discrimination took place in February 2018. The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that sexual orientation is covered under Title VII stating that “sexual orientation discrimination is a subset of sex discrimination because sexual orientation is defined by one’s sex in relation to the sex of those to whom one is attracted”. (Source: CNN website) As with the ruling from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, this ruling was not nation-wide but did apply to persons within the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals area, which includes the states of New York, Connecticut, and Vermont.
Even with these previous wins at the lower courts, not everyone in the US was protected by the law. A federal ruling would be needed in order to ensure all US persons could be protected. Now that the US Supreme Court has made this ruling, the decision applies to everyone in the United States and at all court levels. Know that your sexual orientation or transgender status does not impact your professional experience or the value you bring to an employer. And now that there is a ruling from the highest court in the United States, you are protected from workplace discrimination!
In summary, you have protections from workplace discrimination through various US laws including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. It is important that you know how you are protected and where you might not be protected. For more information about existing US laws, check out other blog posts from That Purple Book.
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