How Pending Supreme Court Rulings on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Will Affect Your HR Decisions

In the spring of 2020, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on a set of three cases to determine whether or not there are federal protections for employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The case is looking at protections that stem from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, something every employer should already be familiar with. Title VII explicitly bans employers from discriminating on the basis of color, race, religion, national origin, and sex. The court will decide if sex includes sexual orientation and gender identity. Here is what the decision could mean for your HR department.

If the court decides in favor of LGBT protections…

Then there will be no question that employers cannot discriminate against LGBT employees in the workplace. This means that recruits cannot be turned away because they are gay or transgender. Employees cannot be fired for being part of the LGBT community. It also gives LGBT people more leverage in cases involving harassment in the workplace.

In some states and in some companies, nothing will change...

Because the federal law has been considered ambiguous, 21 states have enacted their own laws to protect LGBT people from employment discrimination. Many companies also have their own policies preventing such discrimination.

Even in jurisdictions without these laws, the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has the authority to respond to discrimination complaints. As a rule, the commission already brings forward cases of discrimination against LGBT employees. If the court rules against the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity under Title VII, then this rule will likely change.

What to do to prevent discrimination lawsuits...

The best way to avoid a lawsuit is not to tolerate any kind of discrimination in the workplace. Laying out a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination and harassment in the employee handbook is the first place to start.

Keeping up with new rulings and regulations can be tough on businesses. Learn how a PEO like LBMC Employment Partners can ensure your business is always in compliance with the latest laws. Contact us today to learn more.