The Legal Question
The Legal Answer
Yes. Employers who fire employees for being gay or transgender violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion for the Court (6-3).
The language of Title VII prohibits an employer from discriminating against an individual “because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” Examining the ordinary meaning of this language the Court interpreted to mean that an employer violates Title VII when it intentionally fires an individual employee based, at least in part, on sex.
Any discrimination based of homosexuality or transgender status must require an employer to intentionally treat employees differently due to their sex. This is the practice Title VII prohibits in all forms.
Lack of Legislative History - Not Dispositive
The court recognized that few in 1964 would have expected Title VII to apply to discrimination against homosexual and transgender persons. However, the Court gave no weight to the legislative history because the language of the statute unambiguously prohibited this kind of discrimination.