On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States issued an opinion that sexual orientation is a protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, sex, or national origin.
An employer violates Title VII when it intentionally fires an individual employee based in part on sex. It makes no difference if other factors besides the plaintiff’s sex contributed to the decision or that the employer treated women as a group the same when compared to men as a group. A statutory violation occurs if an employer intentionally relies in part on an individual employee’s sex when deciding to discharge the employee. Because discrimination on the basis of homosexuality or transgender status requires an employer to intentionally treat individual employees differently because of their sex, an employer who intentionally penalizes an employee for being homosexual or transgender also violates Title VII.” Bostock v. Clayton Cty., Georgia, 590 U. S. ____ (2020).
As stated above the June 15, 2020 opinion focuses on sex discrimination. Until June 15, 2020 there was conflicting law as to whether an employer may discriminate against an employee or potential employee based on sexual orientation or identity. The June 15, 2020 Opinion settles this. Sexual orientation or identity is now a protected class.
This new Opinion prohibits employers from terminating employees because of their sexual orientation or identity. An employee cannot be treated less favorably than another employee simply because of their sexual orientation or identity.
If an employee feels that they have been targeted because of their sexual orientation or identity, they now have a cause of action. Common claims that are worth pursuing are individuals who were terminated after an employer learned of their sexual orientation or identity, and individuals who were demoted or harassed because of their sexual orientation or identity. If you feel that you or someone you know was subjected to discrimination or harassment based on their sexual orientation, please contact The Joeckel Law Office to discuss your situation.