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Supreme Court rules that Civil Rights Law protects LGBTQ workers

In a landmark ruling on June 15, 2020, a 6-3 majority of the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of “sex” and the Court ruled in the consolidated case of Bostock v. Clayton that this term extends to LGBTQ employees. In determining the statutory interpretation of “based on sex” the Court explained “it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.”

What does this mean for employers?

Many states (including Maryland) have enacted laws specifically prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In those states, employers are already ensuring nondiscrimination through their policies, practices, and training. Employers in states that do not currently provide these discrimination protections should ensure compliance with the law by:

  • Creating a culture of inclusion and diversity that discourages discrimination in any form.
  • Updating the Employee Handbook by reviewing nondiscrimination and harassment policies to make sure sexual orientation and gender identity are included as protected classes.
  • Providing training to managers and employees on nondiscrimination, harassment and retaliation policies.

Please contact Laura Stover, Human Resources Consultant, with any questions or compliance concerns on the ruling.

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