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The Supreme Court Rules Title VII Applies to Gay and Transgender Individuals, Ending Decades of Patchwork Protections

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court today ruled that an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII.  Writing for the 6-3 majority, Justice Neil Gorsuch concluded that although the legislators who adopted the Civil Rights Act likely did not anticipate such an application of the law, over 50 years later, the plain meaning of “sex” in the statute compelled today’s result: “Only the written word is the law, and all persons are entitled to its benefit." 

For employers in 22 states including Illinois, today’s ruling may not significantly alter their legal obligations. Many states and municipalities already have statutes and ordinances barring employers from discriminating against individuals based on sexual orientation (starting in Pennsylvania in 1975), and some also extend the prohibition to gender identity.  Today’s ruling makes such prohibitions the law in all 50 states, ending what for these individuals was a patchwork approach to employment protections.     

The full decision can be read here:  https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/17-1618_hfci.pdf