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Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Update

Last week, members of the U.S. House of Representatives reintroduced a bill that would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation.  Title VII prohibits discrimination based on “sex.” The bill defines “sex” to include sex stereotype, sexual orientation or gender identity, and pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition. The Equality Act also clarifies that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) cannot be used in a civil context to provide a claim, defense, or basis for discrimination.

The bill, if signed into law, would be the first national nondiscrimination law for LGBTQ Americans. It is noteworthy that three significant sex discrimination cases, Altitude Express v. Zarda, Bostock v. Clayton Cty, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. EEOC, petitioned to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding Title VII’s coverage of sexual orientation and transgender discrimination. The Supreme Court Justices listed the three cases for consideration during the Court’s March 15, 2019 conference, but the Court did not provide any indication whether it will hear the trio of cases.

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