The interpretation of laws in the 60s and 70s did not hold the same gravity as today. The transformation resulted from the changes in the workplace, such as a rise in insensitivity towards equality. For instance, one could argue that the difference results from numerous changes in demographics, especially aspects surrounding workplaces. When anti-discrimination were getting drafted, many clauses were blurred. Lawmakers could not foresee the modern-day challenges and the workplace dynamics. Some legal and ethical practices several years ago may or may not be the same today. Over the years, district and federal courts have continually stretched their interpretations to suit the modern world and maintain relevance in today’s practices. This paper highlights the significance of a case that depicts this dynamicity, explains the case background, and discusses the applicability of its findings in today’s practices.
For many years, plentiful cases have gotten before the federal courts about discrimination against employees based on their sexual orientation. However, the breakthrough in this type of discrimination was evident in recent years when the court extended protection for LGBT under Title VII. The Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia case was presented and argued before the Supreme Court of the United States in 2019 (Novkov, 2020). The case emanates from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and highlights discrimination based on homosexuality or transgender status. The plaintiff was an employee of Clayton County, Georgia. Mr. Gerald Bostock maintained that he was fired discriminatory based on sexual orientation that he believed violated the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The issue, in this case, was whether the discrimination based on sexual orientation amounted to discrimination “…because of sex”. The court ruled that firing an employee merely because they are gay or transgender violates Title VII.
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In the Civil Rights Act of 1964, congress declares that any form of discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin is unlawful. Today, the critical issue is whether an employer can terminate an employee based on their sexual orientation. In the court’s ruling, the answer is clear. An employer may not discriminate against an LGBT person. It implies that an employer cannot rely on an individual’s sex when deciding whether to fire them. The basis of this finding is that an individual’s sexual orientation is not pertinent to employment decisions (Feder & Brougher, 2013). The rationale is that it is improbable to discriminate based on sexual orientation without discriminating against their sex. Sex and sexual orientation are inextricably bound up. For a healthy workplace, such discrimination cannot be allowed in modern society.
The framing of the case’s ruling had significant implications and set a precedent to address the widespread discrimination in workplaces. It drew more attention to discrimination against lesbians and gays in the workplace. The rule has extended protection on LGBT people against discrimination in housing, health care, and education. District and federal courts continue to deal with numerous similar cases. For this reason, all other traditionally ignored minorities have gotten push to campaign for equality in the workplaces and other areas. Since the ruling, it is apparent that the concern for equality in all spheres of life has grown tremendously. Organizations will need to strategically define and develop inclusion and diversity plans while paying attention to such issues.
It may take a few more years before we see absolute equality in workplaces and different spheres of life. Still, the equality movement has received support from the Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia case precedents. It set a foundation for the extension of the Title VII protection beyond the basic definition of sex and other protected classes. The changes in demographics have amplified the voices of those that believe everyone, despite their sexual orientation, should be afforded equal rights and opportunities. Organizations and business entities must think beyond the basics of law to guarantee they are on the legal side and avoid costs of discrimination.
Feder, J., & Brougher, C. (2013). Sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in employment: a legal analysis of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
Novkov, J. (2020). Bostock v. Clayton County on LGBT employment discrimination. SCOTUS 2020, 25-35. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-53851-4_2