Supreme Court Rules for Federal LGBT Workplace Protections
On Monday, Jun. 15, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. For the first time on a national level, this decision has extended federal workplace protections to the LGBT community.
In a landmark 6-3 decision, the Court said that the broad language of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 not only covers discrimination on the basis of sex, but on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity as well. “An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law,” the Justices wrote in their opinion.
Before this ruling, 22 states, including Colorado, prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Another 10 states had protections in place for public employees only. 17 states, before Monday, had no workplace protections at any level for LGBT employees.
This new ruling extends workplace rights to thousands of employees across the U.S. who were previously unprotected. However, this ruling does not apply to small businesses with fewer than 15 employees. All other employers must comply with the ruling.
Colorado’s History of LGBT Acceptance
Since 2007, employment discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity has been illegal in Colorado. This non-discrimination protection has ensured employees in Colorado are not fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity and are given the same rights as their straight, cisgender peers.
Colorado has been at the forefront of LGBT activism for years now. In 2018, we voted in our current, and first openly gay governor in the U.S., Governor Jared Polis.
In fact, Justice Neil Gorsuch of Colorado authored the landmark Supreme Court decision on Monday. This was just another example of a Coloradan leading the fight for LGBT rights and setting federal standards for workplace protections.
Going forward, this decision will not change how businesses in Colorado operate, as non-discrimination has been the law here for over 10 years. But it extends protections across the country and ensures that the protections Colorado lawmakers wrote will remain intact.
- Bravin, Jess, et al. “Supreme Court Rules for Gay and Transgender Rights in the Workplace.” The Wall Street Journal, 15 June 2020.