The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that employers can't discriminate against their workers solely because they are gay, lesbian, or transgender.
The landmark 6-3 vote ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bars job discrimination because of sex also includes protections for workers against discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender assignment.
Justices Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Neil Gorsuch, Elena Kagan, John Roberts, and Sonia Sotomayor were in the majority, with Gorsuch writing the majority opinion. Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas dissented.
It follows cases brought against employers by several gay and trans workers, including Gerald Bostock, who was fired as a child welfare coordinator in Georgia in 2013 after he joined a gay recreational softball league.
The argument made by Gorsuch is that it is "impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex."
Gorsuch gave a hypothetical example of an employer who has a policy of firing anybody known to be homosexual being invited to an office Holiday party by a "model employee," who then introduces the boss to their wife, Susan.
"Will that employee be fired? If the policy works as the employer intends, the answer depends entirely upon whether the model employee is a man or a woman," Gorsuch writes.
"To be sure, that employer’s ultimate goal might be to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. But to achieve that purpose the employer must, along the way, intentionally treat an employee worse based in part on that individual’s sex."