Sexual Orientation and Transgender Status Now Protected

BY Pam Krivda & Syretta Williams
6/16/2020 - HVAC Employment

On Monday, June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that sexual orientation and transgender are protected classifications under Title VII. (Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia).   Sexual orientation and transgender are protected under the classification of ‘sex’ in that Act.

The federally protected classes are race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, age, genetic information, military status, and exercise of a protected right.  Other classes and characteristics may be covered under state or local laws.

It is unlawful to discriminate in employment on the basis of any candidate’s or employee’s membership in a protected class.

HARDI hosted a webinar, How HR is Changing with the Times, to discuss this new case and to answer your questions about it.  During the same webinar, we discussed policy matters and discussion considerations related to the topic of race in the workplace.

This new ruling may require changes to some employers’ policies.  Prior to this new case, sexual orientation and transgender status were only protected by a patchwork of state and local laws/ordinances and policies and handbooks have not necessarily been drafted with LGBTQ+ protections in mind.  At a minimum, the following policies should be updated:

  • Equal Employment Opportunity/Non-Discrimination (these generally list the protected classes)
  • Non-Harassment (this, too, generally lists the protected classes)
  • Policies related to bullying, abusive conduct, professional behavior, etc.
  • Employment applications (review to ensure no questions even inadvertently indicate orientation or transgender status
  • Acknowledgment of Policies/Handbook (if there’s a recitation of protected classes)
  • Restroom accommodations

Some of the above-mentioned policy templates or guidelines are available free to HARDI HR Consulting subscribers and are also available for purchase to non-subscribers.

Pam dives deeper into the topic regarding protected classes and what your organization should be doing to update its policies considering the recent changes to Title VII and current social climate.  She answered questions such as:

  1. Due to the update in Title VII, how should our organization address the travel policy where prior to, employees had to share a room when traveling together?
  2. If our organization has locker rooms and showers in our fitness facilities, etc., what accommodations do we need to make there?
  3. What should my organization do if an employee wants to be off work to participate in the current protesting that is happening?

This would normally be a pay-for-access webinar to non-HARDI HR Consulting Services subscribers however, thanks to the generosity of our sponsor, MTA360, it is free for all HARDI members. 

Thank you MTA360!


Now is a great time to become a HARDI HR Consulting Services subscriber and take advantage of what the program has to offer with 2020 pricing, in line with our 5 Keys of Peak Season. For additional assistance on this or other compliance, HR, or training and development matters be sure to seek assistance through HARDI’s HR Consulting Services or contact Syretta Williams. 

 [1]Please note that while during this webinar, protest-related policies may be discussed, Title VII does NOT cover protesting in any way.