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Court extends protections to transgender employees

On Behalf of | Jul 10, 2020 | Workplace Discrimination

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects against discrimination in employment based on race, color, national origin, religion and sex. In 2017, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals – which has jurisdiction over Indiana – found that “sex” includes sexual orientation, making it unlawful for Indiana employers to discriminate against employees based on their sexual orientation. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court went one step further and found that “sex” includes not just sexual orientation but also gender identity.

In a surprising decision authored by Justice Gorsuch, an appointee of President Trump, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of one transgender plaintiff and one homosexual plaintiff who brought lawsuits against their former employers for workplace discrimination. Justice Gorsuch essentially wrote that someone’s LGBT status was necessarily dependent on that person’s gender, meaning that they are covered by Title VII’s protection against discrimination based on sex.

This decision is a victory for transgender Indiana residents, who previously had no basis under which to file a lawsuit if they were discriminated against or harassed based on their gender identity. Individuals in Indiana identifying as gay or bisexual can continue to pursue federal claims against their employers for discrimination since the U.S. Supreme Court decision was consistent with that of the Seventh Circuit.

If an employee feels that he or she has been treated differently or paid less than a fellow employee, it would be a good idea to consult with an employment law attorney to discuss whether the workplace discrimination could be actionable, meaning that it was done based on a legally protected characteristic. Individuals can also file a lawsuit against their former employers if they feel that they have been wrongfully terminated for a protected reason, which includes retaliation for complaining about perceived harassment or discrimination.


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