The United States Supreme Court announced on April 22, 2019, that it will consider a trio of cases relating to whether LGBT employees are protected under federal workplace discrimination laws. Two of these cases will determine whether gay, lesbian, or bisexual employees are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. The third case will determine whether the same protections extend to transgender employees.
The federal circuit courts are currently split on whether LGBT employees are protected from discrimination in the workplace under Title VII. In 2017, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Indiana and Illinois, became the first federal circuit appeals court to find that Title VII applies to sexual orientation. However, the Seventh Circuit has not extended this protection to transgender employees. Meanwhile the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Kentucky, previously ruled that federal workplace laws prohibit discrimination based on sexual identity, but has not found that the same laws prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Supreme Court’s rulings will help bring uniformity across jurisdictions on these issues.
The Supreme Court will not hear these cases until its next term begins in October 2019, and its decisions are expected to be published by June 2020. Employers should prepare to update company policies to conform with the Court’s rulings.
For additional information on the job discrimination or any related topic, please attorney Nick Golding at ngolding@KDDK.com or (812) 423-3183, or contact a member of the KDDK Labor and Employment Law Practice Team.