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Bostock v. Clayton Cty.

Supreme Court of the United States

October 8, 2019, Argued ; June 15, 20201, Decided

Nos. 17-1618, 17-1623 and 18-107.

Opinion

Justice Gorsuch delivered the opinion of the Court.

Sometimes small gestures can have unexpected consequences. Major initiatives practically guarantee them. In our time, few pieces of federal legislation rank in significance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. ] There, in Title VII, Congress outlawed discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear. An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.

Those who adopted the Civil Rights Act might not have anticipated their work would lead to this particular result. Likely, they weren’t thinking about many of the Act’s consequences that have become apparent over the years, including its prohibition against discrimination on the basis of motherhood or its ban on the sexual harassment [*10]  of male employees. But the limits of the drafters’ imagination supply no reason to ignore the law’s demands. ] When the express terms of a statute give us one answer and extratextual considerations suggest another, it’s no contest. Only the written word is the law, and all persons are entitled to its benefit.

Few facts are needed to appreciate the legal question we face. Each of the three cases before us started the same way: An employer fired a long-time employee shortly after the employee revealed that he or she is homosexual or transgender—and allegedly for no reason other than the employee’s homosexuality or transgender status.

Gerald Bostock worked for Clayton County, Georgia, as a child welfare advocate. Under his leadership, the county won national awards for its work. After a decade with the county, Mr. Bostock began participating in a gay recreational softball league. Not long after that, influential members of the community allegedly made disparaging comments about Mr. Bostock’s sexual orientation and participation in the league. Soon, he was fired for conduct “unbecoming” a county employee.

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2020 U.S. LEXIS 3252 *

GERALD LYNN BOSTOCK, PETITIONER v. CLAYTON COUNTY, GEORGIA; ALTITUDE EXPRESS, INC., ET AL., PETITIONERS v. MELISSA ZARDA AND WILLIAM ALLEN MOORE, JR., CO-INDEPENDENT EXECUTORS OF THE ESTATE OF DONALD ZARDA; R.G. & G.R. HARRIS FUNERAL HOMES, INC., PETITIONER v. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, ET AL.

Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.

Prior History:  [*1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT

EEOC v. R.G., 884 F.3d 560, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 5720 (6th Cir. Mich., Mar. 7, 2018)Bostock v. Clayton Cty. Bd. of Comm'rs, 723 Fed. Appx. 964, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 12405 (11th Cir. Ga., May 10, 2018)Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., 883 F.3d 100, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 4608 (2d Cir. N.Y., Feb. 26, 2018)

Disposition: No. 17-1618, 723 Fed. Appx. 964, reversed and remanded; No. 17-1623, 883 F. 3d 100, and No. 18-107, 884 F. 3d 560, affirmed.

CORE TERMS

sex, sexual, orientation, transgender, homosexual, female, gender, attracted, woman, literal, Dictionary, biological, hire, intentionally, but-for, religious, chromosomes, religion, ***, encompass, manifestations, reproductive, harassment, Personnel, instinct, label, stereotypes, update, trait, causation

Labor & Employment Law, Gender & Sex Discrimination, Scope & Definitions, Sexual Orientation, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Discrimination, Employment Practices, Employment Practices, Discharges, Failures to Hire, Disparate Treatment, Adverse Employment Actions, Gender Stereotypes, Scope & Definitions, Business & Corporate Compliance, Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Parental Rights & Pregnancy, Adverse Employment Actions, Discharges & Failures to Hire