This week, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a decision in a landmark case regarding protections for LGBTQ employees. The decision makes it unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise to discriminate against any individual because of an individual’s sex, among other things. The Court found “an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII.” The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) had already taken the position that these individuals are protected by Title VII. However, the Department of Justice under the Trump administration held an opposing position. The EEOC and the Department of Justice filed opposing briefs in Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc. Notably, the Court specifically deferred on the question of religious freedom.
Employers should immediately review employment handbooks and policies to ensure compliance with this new case law focusing on the EEOC Anti-Discrimination and Harassment sections. Further, and most importantly, employers should update training material and re-train employees on the new policies.