One might reasonably think that relevant laws addressing workplace discrimination against gender identity and sexual orientation would be uniformly aligned across the country.
In fact, and as centrally noted in a recent in-depth overview of work-linked employee safeguards, federal appellate courts in different areas of the United States differ markedly in their rulings concerning LGBT employees.
Their varied take centers closely on the protected category of “sex” under Title VII of the seminal Civil Rights Act of 1964. Some federal circuit courts broadly construe that classification, finding that it encompasses protections for workers against all forms of sex-based discrimination. Others take a more limited approach.
The above article underscores that such disparity has led to a lack of much needed clarity for employers “that have faced conflicting decisions from the various federal courts around the county.”
Enter the U.S. Supreme Court, which is slated to address the matter in a case later this year. The nation’s highest court will specifically weigh in on the question of whether Title VII’s protected sex category encompasses sexual orientation and gender identity.
Ultimately, recently proposed Capitol Hill legislation could deliver an ultra-clear message concerning the subject. If enacted as law, the Equality Act would flatly codify absolute LGBT protections into federal anti-discrimination laws.
It certainly bears noting that state laws addressing sexual orientation and transgender discrimination also vary materially across the country. We prominently note that on our website at the established New York City employment law firm of Raff & Becker, LLP. We stress therein the strong laws in New York State and in New York City that already exist to protect the LGBT community against workplace discrimination. And we additionally note the current question marks under federal law.
Raff & Becker stands ready to provide guidance and, when necessary, diligent legal representation to both employers and employees regarding all aspects of employment law. We welcome contacts to the firm.