Last month the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on whether existing federal law prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Although 22 states including Iowa have laws that forbid sexual orientation discrimination on the job, federal law does not offer the same protection. The Court is being asked to decide, once and for all, if Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, also covers sexual orientation and gender status.
The cases under consideration by the court are, Altitude Express v. Zarda and Bostok v. Clayton County, involving separate plaintiffs who alleged they were fired for their sexual orientation, and, Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, involving a plaintiff who alleges she was fired because she is transgender. Together they are asking the court to decide whether Title VII prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ employees, putting some extra teeth in employment discrimination laws.
If the court interprets existing law to mean that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender is protected under Title VII, employers who have not already adopted discrimination policies that address sexual orientation and gender discrimination will have to revise their policies to comply with the law. If the court holds that LGBTQ employees are not protected under Title VII, then Congress will likely have to address the issue through the legislative process. A decision is expected in Spring 2020.
Under federal law employers cannot discriminate on he basis of race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex (including sexual harassment), or disability. It remains to be seen if protections against sexual orientation and gender discrimination will also be protected under Title VII. If you have been a victim of employment discrimination, it is important to seek the help of an experienced employment law attorney. There are a number of legal remedies to pursue under federal and state law if you have been discriminated against or suffered retaliation on the job. Contact the Davenport employment discrimination lawyers of McDonald, Woodward & Carlson PC for help at 563-355-6478.