Supreme Court Decision on Federal Anti-Discrimination Laws

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled on June 15, 2020 that the existing Federal Anti-Discrimination laws provide protection to applicants and employees on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or transgender status. The Supreme Court, by a 6-3 vote, ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 covers sexual orientation and transgender status. The Supreme Court upheld rulings from lower Courts that had determined that sexual orientation discrimination was prohibited as a form of sexual discrimination; and that transgender status was likewise protected.

The Seventh Circuit, which covers Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin, had made such a determination over a year ago. In addition, while many commentators have indicated this is a surprising vote, in reality it should not be. The United States Supreme Court, in 1998, had previously ruled that discrimination by heterosexual males against another heterosexual male was prohibited under Title VII if the discrimination was based on the harassers' view of how individuals of one gender should act. This appears to be the very basis for protection for sexual orientation and transgender status. Many Courts had slowly come to realize that distinction made in the 1998 Supreme Court. Now any doubt has been eliminated by the United States Supreme Court's ruling on  June 15, 2020.

Barrett McNagny continues to urge its clients, and continues to train its clients, that non-job related factors simply should not be a factor in making any decision with hiring, discipline, promotions, terminations, or any other term or condition of employment. All employment related decisions should be based upon legitimate, non-discriminatory business related reasons and factors.

For additional questions contact a member of the Barrett McNagny Labor and Employment team.  

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