Supreme Court rules LGBTQ workers are protected by federal law

The U.S. Supreme Court today held that the definition of sex under Title VII, the federal law prohibiting discrimination in the workplace, includes sexual orientation and gender identity.

Writing for the Court, Justice Gorsuch said, “An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.” 

The court’s reasoning has prompted questions whether the Department of Health and Human Services’ new position on gender identity discrimination can be sustained. On Friday, the department issued a final rule regarding the federal prohibition of discrimination on certain bases, including sex, in certain federally funded health care programs and activities. In the rule, the department reversed its previous position that sex discrimination includes gender identity, eliminating protections for transgender people.

Advocates have announced their intention to legally challenge the rule. 

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