Supreme Court To Decide LGBTQ Workers’ Rights

It may come as news to many that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has ruled that federal law does not protect employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation.  The Supreme Court will review whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) prohibits discrimination against employees because of their status as gay or transgender.  Title VII prohibits employment discrimination because of (among other things) “sex.”  So, the question becomes whether sexual orientation and transgender status are included in the prohibition of discrimination “because of sex.”

One of the three cases coming before the Supreme Court is Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia. Gerald Bostock is a gay man who worked for 10 years as the Child Welfare Services Coordinator for Clayton County’s Juvenile Court System. He received strong performance evaluations and was responsible for the Clayton County Court Appointed Special Advocates program (“CASA”). He contends that his employer learned he was gay after he began participating in a gay recreational softball league and promoted CASA volunteer opportunities to softball league members. He asserts that thereafter, the County falsely accused him of mismanaging public funds as a pretext for terminating his employment because of his sexual orientation. Bostock is represented at the Supreme Court by Brian J. Sutherland and Thomas J. Mew, IV of Buckley Beal.

The Employment Law Solution (“ELS”) will closely monitor the Supreme Court arguments and decisions regarding these issues so as to best advise employers. In any event, a best practice is to always make employment decisions based on legitimate business reasons rather than based on employees’ personal characteristics. Please contact Halima White at [email protected] if you have questions on this posting.