LGBTQ Employees Are Now Protected by Law from Workplace Discrimination

Isabel Jones

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which barred discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sex, race, and religion, also protects LGBTQ employees from being fired based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The decision, passed with a vote of 6-3, was written by Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump’s first appointee to the Supreme Court. Justices John G. Roberts Jr., Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, also voted in favor of the decision.

"An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids," Gorsuch wrote.

Gorsuch posited that the original decision didn’t necessarily take sexual orientation and gender identity into consideration,"But the limits of the drafters' imagination supply no reason to ignore the law's demands.”

"In Title VII, Congress adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employee's sex when deciding to fire that employee,"  Gorsuch wrote. "We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law."

As Black Lives Matter’s Twitter reminded the platform’s users today, previously, “you could be fired for being LGBTQ in 26 states in America.”

It’s a landmark decision, one that CNN Supreme Court analyst Steve Vladeck described to the outlet as “one of the court's most significant rulings ever with respect to the civil rights of gay and transgender individuals.”

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“On its terms, the decision is only about discrimination in the workplace," Vladeck explained. "But it inevitably opens the door to a host of other challenges to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status on the ground that it, too, is impermissibly based upon sex. In that respect, only the court's 2015 ruling recognizing a constitutional right to same-sex marriage may be equally as significant."

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