In an historic decision, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 last week that Title VII’s prohibition on employment discrimination protects employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. In doing so, the Court held that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity necessarily involves discrimination on the basis of sex, which Title VII expressly prohibits.
As regular readers of our blog will recall, we have covered this issue for quite some time, including the cases that made their way to the Supreme Court. We’ve written a client Alert discussing the Court’s decision and examining the practical implications for employers. The Supreme Court’s decision is available here.
The Court’s decision means that non-discrimination protections apply to LGBTQ employees of employers who are covered by Title VII (i.e., employers with fifteen or more employees) in all fifty states, bringing a level of consistency to a patchwork of state laws.
Practically speaking, employers should immediately review their policies and practices to ensure that they are promoting a work environment free from discrimination or harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This step is critical for employers in states that lack state law protections for LGBTQ employees. In particular, employers should consider their policies and practices on hiring, dress codes, employee benefits, promotion, discipline, and discrimination and harassment prevention, among others, in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling.