Many people in Washington, D.C. were heartened by the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia in 2020. In this case, the high court ruled that the anti-discrimination provisions contained in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against workplace sex discrimination included discrimination against employees based on their sexual orientations or gender identities. While the decision promises major changes in employment discrimination law, its adoption by private businesses and states might be slow.
The President’s executive order
Shortly after being inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States, President Biden signed an executive order in which he directed federal agencies to apply the ruling from the Bostock case. This means that federal employers are currently prohibited from discriminating against applicants and employees based on their sexual orientations or transgender statuses. Individual states and private companies might be slower to adopt policies of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, however.
Rights against sex-based employment discrimination
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits workplace discrimination based on the protected characteristics of employees, including national origin, sex, color, race, religion, and others. Before the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock, the circuits were split on whether the prohibition against sex discrimination included discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Employees who are discriminated against in their workplaces based on their sexual orientations or gender identities may now be entitled to recover damages when their employers engage in employment discrimination based on those characteristics.
The federal anti-discrimination laws provide protections to people who might otherwise face discrimination at work based on their protected characteristics. An experienced employment law attorney might help people who have suffered discrimination at their jobs based on their sexual orientation or gender identity to file discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to hold their employers accountable for their wrongful actions.