U.S. Supreme Court issues landmark ruling on Title VII

ALERT: U.S. Supreme Court issues landmark ruling on Title VII

June 17, 2020

U.S. Supreme Court issues landmark ruling that sexual orientation and transgender status are protected employment categories under Title VII.

In a landmark ruling this week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans discrimination “because of… sex,” extends to sexual orientation and transgender status. The Court ruled that an employer violates the law when it considers an employee’s LGBTQ status in making employment decisions, such as hiring, promotion, compensation or termination.

The Supreme Court heard three separate cases representing a split among federal appellate courts that led to the decision on June 15, 2020. The 6-3 opinion, written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, focused on the text of Title VII and provided that, “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.”

What action should you take?

  • Review your employment law policies related to harassment prevention, anti-discrimination and equal employment opportunity to ensure that sexual orientation and transgender status are included.
  • If policy changes are required for compliance, update training materials and provide anti-discrimination and harassment-prevention training to employees and managers to ensure they understand that Title VII includes discrimination against LGBTQ employees.
    Although not required, the EEOC generally recommends training on preventing harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Employers that do not provide this training may have an increased risk of liability should a claim be filed against them.

Please note Title VII applies to most private and public sector employers that have 15 or more employees. Additional state protections may apply.

For assistance or more information

Contact Carrie Cox with questions or for assistance with determining policy updates and training opportunities using the information below.

Carrie Cox

Vice President
HR & Org. Development Services

Carrie has experience in a variety of human resource functions, including labor laws, compensation structures, employee classification, benefits administration, performance management and human resource best practices. She has served clients in a number of industries, including manufacturing, construction, banking, government, and not-for-profits. Carrie is a member of the national and local chapters of the Society of Human Resource Professionals (SHRM) and serves on the Wichita chapter board of directors.

She is a certified practitioner for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and the Hay Group’s Emotional and Social Competency Inventory. Her additional certifications include Certified Professional Coach from the Academy of Creative Coaching, Professional in Human Resources (PHR) from the Human Resource Certification Institute, and SHRM-CP designated by the SHRM.

Information in this document has been obtained by Allen, Gibbs & Houlik, L.C. from sources believed to be reliable. However, AGH does not guarantee the accuracy nor completeness of any information. This communication does not and is not intended to provide legal, accounting or other professional advice or opinions on specific facts or matters, and accordingly, AGH assumes no liability whatsoever in connection with its use. Nothing in this communication can be used to avoid penalties that may be imposed by a governmental taxing authority or agency.

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