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Supreme Court Rules Civil Rights Law Protects LGBTQ Workers

June 16, 2020

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects homosexual and transgender workers from workplace discrimination.  The Court ruled that the prohibition of discrimination that is “because of sex” includes discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  Further, the Court held that “the plaintiff’s sex need not be the sole or primary cause of the employer’s adverse action” for Title VII to apply.

Several states already include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in their anti-discrimination laws.  In Michigan, for instance, the Department of Civil Rights interprets the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act as prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  The Supreme Court’s decision effectively extends those protections to states that are silent about them or that exclude them. 

Covered employers should be sure to update their policies as necessary to prevent any future discrimination.  For questions about this or any other workplace issue, please contact your relationship attorney or one of Honigman’s Labor and Employment attorneys.