The Employer's Legal Resource: Supreme Court to Decide Whether Title VII Includes Protection Against Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity


The United States Supreme Court has granted certiorari (meaning that they have accepted the appeals for review and will hear oral arguments) in three separate cases involving transgender and/or homosexual employees. As some of our newsletters over the past two years have explained (herehere, and here, if you're interested in looking back), there is currently a split among Circuit Courts of Appeals as to whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protections against discrimination "on the basis of sex" extends to include employment discrimination because of an individual's sexual orientation and/or gender identity. In deciding to take on these cases, the Supreme Court will squarely address the issue and render a final decision to be followed throughout the country.

We previously told you about Donald Zarda and Aimee Stephens. Zarda is a gay man who was fired from his job as a skydiving instructor after he told a customer he was gay and her boyfriend complained to his employer. Stephens is a transgender woman, born a male, who worked as a funeral director at a funeral home. When Stephens was first hired she presented as a male, but the funeral home fired her when she announced her intention to transition from male to female. Zarda and Stephens each filed suit, alleging that their respective employers had terminated them in violation of Title VII, on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Both cases (and one other) are set to come before the Supreme Court sometime this fall, with the Court's decision to be issued in 2020. Stay tuned.

By Rebecca D. Bullard,


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Justin B. Munn

Justin B. Munn

Justin represents clients throughout Oklahoma in family law, civil litigation, guardianships, adoptions, estate planning, trust and probate matters. 

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