LGBTQ+ Protections Expanded Nationwide: Time For Employers To Act
Discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited nationwide. The Supreme Court ruled in June 2020 that terminating an employee merely for being gay or transgender is discrimination based on sex in violation of Title VII.
This decision settles the split among lower courts regarding whether Title VII covers sexual orientation and gender identity. Employers with 15 or more employees are covered by Title VII. Smaller employers may be covered by an applicable state or local equal employment opportunity (EEO) law that explicitly prohibits sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination.
Employers must protect individuals identifying as LGBTQ+ from workplace discrimination. Awareness of issues affecting LGBTQ+ individuals is also important, including sensitivity to the needs of transgender individuals who may be transitioning or undergoing sexual reassignment surgery.
In light of this ruling, employers that do not already prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity should update their policies immediately and take several other steps to ensure compliance with the law, and to cultivate a diverse workplace and a culture of tolerance and inclusion.