Today’s case from Supreme Court history comes from just two years ago today.
In Bostock v. Clayton County, the court ruled that an employer who fires an individual employee merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Justice Neil Gorsuch authored the opinion for the 6-3 majority of the Court.
Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating against any individual “because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” Looking to the ordinary public meaning of each word and phrase comprising that provision, the Court interpreted to mean that an employer violates Title VII when it intentionally fires an individual employee based, at least in part, on sex. Discrimination on the basis of homosexuality or transgender status requires an employer to intentionally treat employees differently because of their sex—the very practice Title VII prohibits in all manifestations. Although it acknowledged that few in 1964 would have expected Title VII to apply to discrimination against homosexual and transgender persons, the Court gave no weight to legislative history because the language of the statute unambiguously prohibits the discriminatory practice.
Happy Pride Month everybody!