Supreme Court’s Title VII ruling and sexual orientation

Many employees experience harassment in the workplace because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. But a Supreme Court Ruling in June of 2020 established that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to discriminate against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation or transgender status.

According to the American Bar Association, this case analyzed whether employment discrimination because of “sex” also includes discrimination relating to a person’s individual sexual orientation. This ruling came out after the Supreme Court consolidated three different cases and ruled all the plaintiffs had protections under Title VII.

The ruling’s impact for employees

The majority opinion of the Supreme Court on Title VII changed the original assumption that the term “sex” only applied to distinctions between female and male. Applying this traditional lens puts more employees at risk of discrimination and harassment in the workplace. With this new ruling in place, it is illegal for adverse employment actions to occur because of someone’s sexual orientation or gender status.

Identifying harassment in the workplace

Despite this recent ruling by the Supreme Court, workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation still occurs in many workplaces. Some examples of this type of discrimination include employees who do not get promoted, receive unfair discipline or lose their jobs because of having a specific gender identity or sexual orientation.

Employers who do not control this type of discrimination in the workplace should face consequences. Employees have the right to feel safe at work, without unfair treatment because of who they are.