On Monday, June 15, the Supreme Court ruled in a 6-to-3 vote that existing federal law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or transgender status. This decision, Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, establishes discrimination protections for LGBTQ workers across the country, instituting new protections for millions living in the 27 states where it had been legal for employers to fire workers for being gay, bisexual, or transgender.
In this major milestone for LGBTQ rights, the Court recognized that Title VII, which outlaws sex discrimination in employment, necessarily prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, since discrimination toward LGBTQ people involves discrimination by an employer “for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex.”
This historic expansion of rights in the workplace arrives during a period of widespread civil rights demonstrations, including marches protesting violence against transgender people of color. However, the fight for employment protection continues among LGBTQ rights groups in areas such as military service, where the Supreme Court lifted injunctions and allowed the Trump administration to implement its ban on military service for transgender people, while litigation challenging the constitutionality of the ban continues, and in health care where the Trump administration recently struck down an Obama-era interpretation of the Affordable Care Act that prohibited discrimination against LGBTQ people.