By Jordan White
On April 22, 2019, the Supreme Court granted certiorari and consolidated three cases involving whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1), prohibits employment discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation and transgender status. The three cases are: Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., 883 F.3d 100 (2d Cir. 2018) (en banc); Bostock v. Clayton County Board of Commissioners, 723 F. App’x 964 (11th Cir. 2018); and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. R.G. &. G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc., 884 F.3d 560 (6th Cir. 2018). In Zarda and R.G. & G.R., the Second and Sixth Circuits agreed that Title VII bars employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and transgender status, respectively, with the Eleventh Circuit holding otherwise in Bostock. Zarda may be the most interesting case of the three. There, the Second Circuit reversed itself in an en banc decision, and it exposed a public divide between the EEOC and the Department of Justice. Both federal agencies filed briefs in the case, with the EEOC arguing that Title VII does apply while the Department of Justice argued the contrary.
We will continue to monitor these cases and provide updates as they proceed before the Supreme Court.