On Monday, June 15, the United States Supreme Court ruled that it’s illegal for employers to fire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The court ruled that an employer who fires a worker for being gay or transgender violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act – which already protected people from employer sex discrimination, as well as discrimination based on race, color, religion, or national origin.
Three main cases influenced the court’s decision. A Clayton County, Georgia employee was fired from his job as a child welfare advocate after he joined a gay softball league. In another case, a New York skydiving instructor was fired days after mentioning he was gay. In a third, a Michigan funeral home worker was fired after she told her employer that she would be identifying as a woman six years into her employment.
The third case raised the question of whether Title VII prohibits discrimination based on gender identity.
In those three cases, the employers admitted to firing the workers for being gay or transgender but argued that this did not violate Title VII.
The court’s 6-3 ruling on Monday ensures that under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, an employer who fired an employee for being gay or transgender would be breaking the law and could be held accountable.