We referenced the labor law term “protected class” in a recent blog post. We noted in our June 9 entry that an employer’s discriminatory behavior targeting any of several enumerated safeguards cited in Title VII of the seminal 1964 Civil Rights Act is “a flat workplace taboo.”
We noted the category of “sex.” Despite the seemingly straightforward connotation of that term and what it applies to, confusion has long attached to what exactly Title VII protects against in American workplaces.
Here is what has not been safeguarded against historically: discriminatory conduct or policies undermining the rights of gay, lesbian and transgender workers. Protections for that diverse demographic have never been uniformly deemed to exist judicially through the Title VII conduit of the enumerated “sex” classification.
That is, until now. More precisely, a huge day of reckoning came last week on Monday via a U.S. Supreme Court 6-3 ruling that significantly expanded the protective reach of the sex category against on-the-job discrimination or retaliatory conduct.
SCOTUS Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion. He stressed that “The answer is clear” regarding whether management “can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender.” Throughout the entirety of American history, and until last week, no federal law barred such a result.
Now it does, with one national media piece among scores of others spotlighting “a huge victory for the LGBTQ community.”
Employers will, of course, want to fully comprehend the law and its dictates to ensure maximum legal compliance.