Client Alert: Title VII Protects Gay and Transgender Employees: Action Items for Employers and Future Issues

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The Court held that the statute’s “because of sex” language prohibits firing (or otherwise discriminating against) an employee because of sexual orientation or transgender status. “It is impossible,” the Court said, “to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.”

At a surface level, the impact of the decision will be most quickly felt in those states (including Texas) that do not have state-specific employment protections for gay and transgender employees. Employers in those states should review their employment policies and training programs to ensure consistency with the new ruling and should provide training and education to supervisors and employees on the topic.