In a landmark ruling last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that LGBTQIA+ employees are federally protected from discrimination under the Civil Rights Act. Passed in 1964, Title VII of the act bans workplace discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin”.
Prior to last week’s decision, the Act’s definition of the term “sex” was unclear, leading to nationwide instances of firings, harassment, closeting, and bias toward LGBTQIA+ employees. The Court’s 6-3 vote ensures the term “sex” is defined to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
This ruling comes as a major victory in the LGBTQIA+ community’s fight for equality, likened to the legalization of equal marriage just five years ago. While some states had included the LGBTQIA+ community in workplace protection laws, the federal passage sets a heightened standard for equality and inclusivity. The full Opinion can be read here.
However, the fight is not over. The ruling does not apply to small businesses with fewer than 15 employees. And the decision comes only days after the Trump administration removed discrimination protections in health care for transgender people, a devastating policy reversal announced during Pride Month.
As the fight for equality continues, companies can celebrate this win within their organization. Sending a company-wide notice of the ruling and hanging a Pride flag in front of your office is an easy way to show your employees they are welcome.
But that is only the beginning.
- Use this opportunity to reevaluate the verbiage used in policies, emails, and presentations to ensure it is inclusive. Reference this stylebook from The Association of LGBTQ Journalists.
- Rather than your company marching in a Pride parade, which is controversial in the community, ask LGBTQIA+ employees how best to celebrate them during their month.
- Invite LGBTQIA+ employee resource groups to be involved with healthcare decisions, new employee onboarding, and more.
- For a wonderful example of workplace equality, check out Accenture’s Pride Network page.
Overall, listen to your LGBTQIA+ employees and amplify their voices.