SCOTUS Opinion: Gay and Transgender Employees Are Protected Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

Bostock v. Clayton County consisted of several cases in which a long-time employee was terminated solely for being gay or transgender. Those employees sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it unlawful to fire an employee “because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin,” arguing that employment discrimination on account of sexual orientation was part and parcel of their “sex.” The Eleventh Circuit ruled that it did not, while the Second and Sixth Circuits ruled that it did. The Court, in a 6-3 opinion by Justice Gorsuch, held that Title VII’s prohibition on discrimination based on “sex” incorporated sexual orientation, as an “employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex.”

The majority acknowledged that the 1964 Congress that passed the law may not have anticipated or intended that interpretation, but ruled that the express terms of the statute compelled the result. Justice Alito, joined by Justice Thomas, dissented, accusing the majority of legislating from the bench, and arguing that the statute as passed by Congress in 1964 did not address sexual orientation, and that Congress should be the one to change the law. Justice Kavanaugh also dissented, arguing that judges are precluded from rewriting laws to fit their own policy views when Congress had tried, and failed, multiple times to do so itself.

A link to the opinion is here: