Until June 15, 2020, it was unclear whether employers could discriminate against members of the LGBT community. It was never specifically stated in federal law if this form of discrimination was against the law and so, decisions made by the courts varied from state to state. In the summer of 2020 though, the Supreme Court made a decision in the landmark case, Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, declaring that LGBT discrimination is against the law in all states.
The case of Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia was three consolidated cases that came from different parts of the country. All three involved a gay or transgender employee who was terminated from a job due to the employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
The employers did not argue the fact that they fired the employees on those grounds but defended their right to do so by stating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act did not protect against this type of discrimination. The argument was that because Title VII does not explicitly list sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes, that form of discrimination was not prohibited by law.
In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court decided that Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination based on sex, includes a person’s sexual orientation and their gender identity. When publishing the decision, the Court stated that it is discriminatory to fire an employee on the basis of being gay or transgender when they would not have questioned sexual orientation traits in members of a different sex.
Although the Supreme Court’s decision affects employees throughout the country, it is particularly good news for those in Ohio. Prior to the case, Ohio did not recognize LGBT discrimination as a violation of a person’s rights. The state had always determined that Title VII only provided protection against sex stereotyping and employment practices that favored one sex over the other. A person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, the state courts argued, did not fall into that category.
This argument from the courts made discrimination claims brought by an LGBT employee very difficult to file. Added to this is the fact that Ohio is an at-will employment state, meaning that employers can essentially fire an employee for any reason, or no reason, at all. The at-will employment law made it even more challenging to bring LGBT discrimination claims. Now that all LGBT employees are considered to be in a protected class under federal law, everyone in Ohio can enjoy the same rights.
No one in Ohio should fear for their job based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Now that the Supreme Court has recognized that fact, it eliminates one of the biggest obstacles employees have faced when filing these claims. If you believe that you were terminated due to LGBT discrimination, you can file a claim against your employer and receive the same remedies as employees who are discriminated against based on sex. At Marshall Forman & Schlein LLC, our Columbus employment lawyers know how to take action to help hold your employer accountable and give you the best chance of success. Call us today to speak to an attorney or contact us online to learn more about how we can help.
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