Another form of workplace discrimination was finally clarified when the Supreme Court made a landmark decision on June 15, stating that employers who fire workers for their sexual or gender orientation are in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The case made its way to the SCOTUS docket following disagreements among lower courts regarding three different discrimination complaints filed against employers who fired individuals for being openly transgender or gay. Plaintiffs argued that such firings violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The decision set a major precedent for the LGBTQ community, who until this decision were often at the mercy of employers, having no clear definitions of this particular form of discrimination.
According to statistics from the workplace advocacy organization Out and Equal, one in four LGBTQ people reported discrimination over a five-year period. Around 27% of transgender people report that they’ve been fired, denied a promotion, or not hired because of their gender identity.
Are there any changes to California’s anti-discrimination laws?
While some states previously allowed for gay and transgender workers to be fired at the will of the employer, California already had the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) in place, making discrimination against gay and transgender people illegal in workplaces with five or more people.
What the SCOTUS ruling means is that California employers who do violate discrimination laws on the basis of sexual or gender identity must answer to both FEHA and Title VII. Additionally, the Title VII decision also opens up businesses not covered by FEHA—those with fewer than five people—to discrimination accountability.
For anyone who has experienced workplace and employment discrimination, an attorney can help defend you. The law is on the side of your right to work and of your personal dignity.