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Supreme Court Rules Employers Cannot Discriminate Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, that Title VII, a key provision of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, should be understood to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the court, “An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”

This ruling by the Supreme Court resolves a split in opinions among the different U.S. Courts of Appeal circuits and states. According to the ruling, under Title VII, “An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.”

Currently, at least 35 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico have either laws or executive orders that specifically prohibit such discrimination in various forms by all employers, private and public. The Supreme Court’s ruling decided this issue under Title VII at the federal level and for all states.

Please continue to follow the Paycom blog for key updates in the law.