This week the United States Supreme Court commenced its 2019-2020 term, during which it will examine significant questions related to the scope of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Yesterday, on October 8th, the Court heard oral argument in a trio of cases on whether Title VII, the federal law that prohibits workplace discrimination “on the basis of sex,” prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The issue is whether “sex” as used in Title VII is limited to gender or also includes sexual orientation or gender identity. Currently, federal courts around the country are split on that question. State laws are equally split, with 25 states (including Oregon, Washington, and California) protecting the rights of LGBTQ individuals and expressly prohibiting discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Supreme Court’s ruling – expected sometime in 2020 – will shape the federal landscape on LGBTQ rights and, if it finds that Title VII prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ individuals, dramatically expand the rights of LGBTQ individuals in states that currently do not afford such protections.
We will keep you updated when the Court issues its ruling.