Possible Supreme Court Ruling Ahead on LGBT Discrimination

While California protects employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, this is not true for all states. The Supreme Court may rule on several cases regarding whether the protection from discrimination on the basis of sex offered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act extends to protect people in the case of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Circuit courts have differed in their interpretations. The Eleventh Circuit ruled that employees were not protected on the basis of sexual orientation while the Second and Seventh Circuits came to the opposite decision.

The Sixth Circuit became the first to recognize gender identity as a protected class under Title VII. However, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a memo that became public in October saying a person’s sex could only be identified at or before birth. The memo said that other federal agencies should follow this policy. Although the Department of Justice agrees with the HHS, some other agencies do not.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has treated both sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes and has said it plans to continue doing so. Furthermore, companies such as Twitter, Amazon and Pepsico were among nearly 200 that signed a statement encouraging transgender equality.

There are several other types of discrimination that federal law protects workers against including religious discrimination and discrimination on the basis of race or national origin. People who are pregnant or disabled also have certain protections in the workplace while people 40 and over are protected against age discrimination.

When people feel they are facing discrimination or harassment at work, they might want to start by following employer procedures for reporting the situation. If the workplace does not respond appropriately, the person may want to consult an attorney about what to do next.