TITLE VII COVERS LGBTQ WORKERS

June 15, 2020

 

On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County holding that the protections of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act which bars discrimination based on sex extend to claims of gender identity and sexual orientation.  In this case, Gerald Bostock, a gay man from Georgia who worked for Clayton County as a child welfare advocate, was terminated for “conduct ‘unbecoming’ a county employee” shortly after he began participating in a gay recreational softball league.  Bostock denied the county’s accusation of mismanaging public funds, calling it a pretext for firing him because of his sexuality.  

 

In its 6-3 opinion, the Court held that "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."

 

Notably, while the Court used a “but-for” causation standard, it clarified that “plaintiff’s sex need not be the sole or primary cause of the employer’s adverse action.”  The Court explained that it does not matter if other factors besides the plaintiff’s sex contributed to the decision – “so long as the plaintiff’s sex was one but-for cause of that was enough to trigger the law.”

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June 15, 2020

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