July 1, 2020
By Anne E. Baggott
On June 15, the U.S. Supreme Court held in a 6-3 opinion in Bostock v. Clayton County, Case No. 17-1618, that an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII. The case has settled the long-running question of whether Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sex includes sexual orientation or transgender status.
The Court stated, “An individual’s homosexuality or transgender status is not relevant to employment decisions. That’s because it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against the individual based on sex.”
Kansas and Missouri employers should take steps now to update policies and practices to ensure employment decisions are not based on sexual orientation or transgender status. Although the state human rights laws do not include these categories, employees now have an important new workplace protection under federal law.