Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees solely because of their sex, race, color, religion, and national origin. But what about sexual orientation? Many people believe that sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, which is explicitly prohibited by Title VII. However, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is now arguing that this federal law should not protect LGBT employees from sexual orientation discrimination.
The DOJ’s Stance On Sexual Orientation Discrimination
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear two cases related to the legality of sexual orientation discrimination in October. Recently, the DOJ submitted a brief to the Supreme Court asking the justices to rule that Title VII does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
The DOJ argued that discriminating against someone because of their sexual orientation is not the same as discriminating against someone because of their sex. Thus, sexual orientation discrimination is not prohibited by Title VII. The DOJ concluded in their brief that employers are not violating Title VII as long as they are treating male and female members of the LGBT community equally.
What Happens Next?
Nothing has been decided yet. The Supreme Court will get the final say on the matter in October when they hear two cases involving LGBT workers who were discriminated against by their employers. In both cases, the plaintiffs allege that they were fired solely because of their sexual orientation.
There are no state laws in Oklahoma that prohibit employers from discriminating against an employee based on his or her sexual orientation. For this reason, many employers in this state could legally discriminate against LGBT employees if the Supreme Court ends up siding with the DOJ. It would then be up to state and federal lawmakers to protect the LGBT community from discrimination in the workplace. Federal lawmakers could attempt to pass legislation that would officially expand Title VII to prohibit sexual orientation discrimination. Oklahoma lawmakers could also help by enacting state-level discrimination laws to protect this vulnerable community.
For now, the issue remains undecided until the Supreme Court has reached a decision.
If you are a victim of workplace discrimination, seek legal representation from Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. at once. Let our experienced attorneys aggressively fight to protect your rights in the workplace. Call us now at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.