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Title VII Now Protects Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Title VII Now Protects Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States issued an opinion on a set of three cases involving the termination of gay and transgender employees.  The question presented to the Court was whether the prohibition on workplace discrimination on the basis of sex, pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, included discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. In a six (6) to three (3) ruling, the Court ruled that it does.

While New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, the same was not true under federal law.  Title VII makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against any individual on the basis of an individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.  Up until yesterday, discrimination on the basis of sex did not include discrimination for being gay or transgender.  Therefore, employers could refuse to hire, terminate, or otherwise discriminate against gay and transgender individuals without violating Title VII.

What does this mean for employers?  For most New Jersey employers, not a whole lot. New Jersey employers should already have policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and also should already provide employees with training that covers such discrimination. If employers do not have a policy specifically prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, they should update their policies and ensure that employees are properly trained on the policies. 

If employers have any questions about their policies or employee trainings, please contact Parker McCay’s Labor and Employment Department. 

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