On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian and transgender employees against discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. For Wisconsin employees who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, the ruling means that it is illegal for employers to terminate, not promote or not hire employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Title VII and the ruling
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on sex. According to the report, the 6-3 opinion, which was written by Justin Neil Gorsuch, LGBTQ+ employees have protections under Title VII because sex plays a role in the discrimination against these employees. For example, employers do not discriminate against attraction to a specific gender unless the person is the same sex as the gender of the person he or she is attracted to. Thus, the sex of person plays a role in potential discrimination.
According to UCLA’s Williams Institute, there are an estimated 7.1 million workers who identify themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual. There are approximately 1 million workers who identify as transgender. Although 22 states and the District of Columbia previously had laws protecting workers against discrimination based on sexual orientation and 21 states and the District of Columbia protected workers against discrimination based on gender identity, the Supreme Court ruling provides federal protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Even though it is now illegal in all states to discriminate against employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity, some employers may still continue to base employment decisions based on these identifiers. If an employee believes that he or she may have been discriminated against based on his or her gender identity or sexual orientation, as employment law an attorney may conduct an investigation into the allegations. In some cases, this could lead to litigation if there is evidence of discrimination.