The Court apparently finds these arguments unpersuasive, and so do I, but for the sake of completeness, I will address them briefly. A regulation allows single-sex teams, 34 CFR §106.41(b) (2019), but the statute itself would of course take precedence. Carrying out that rule because an employee is a woman and a fan of the Yankees is a firing “because of sex” if the employer would have tolerated the same allegiance in a male employee. Seeking footing in the statutory text, they begin by advancing a number of reasons why discrimination on the basis of homosexuality or transgender status doesn’t involve discrimination because of sex. And none of their other contentions about what they think the law was meant to do, or should do, allow for ignoring the law as it is. Several lower court cases have held that discrimination on this ground violates Title VII. First, it’s irrelevant what an employer might call its discriminatory practice, how others might label it, or what else might motivate it. Usurping the constitutional authority of the other branches, the Court has essentially taken H. R. 5’s provision on employment discrimination and issued it under the guise of statutory interpretation. When it comes to Title VII, the adoption of the traditional but-for causation standard means a defendant cannot avoid liability just by citing some other factor that contributed to its challenged employment decision. Not a single Justice stated or even hinted that sexual orientation discrimination was just a form of sex discrimination and therefore entitled to the same heightened scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause. In the language of law, this means that Title VII’s “because of ” test incorporates the “ ‘simple’ ” and “traditional” standard of but-for causation. Is it unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire an employee with a record of sexual harassment in prior jobs? And the Court has likewise stressed that we may not read “a specific concept into general words when precise language in other statutes reveals that Congress knew how to identify that concept.” Eskridge, Interpreting Law, at 415; see University of Tex. The prohibition of sex discrimination was “added to Title VII at the last minute on the floor of the House of Representatives,” Meritor Savings Bank, 477 U. S., at 63, by Representative Howard Smith, the Chairman of the Rules Committee. But the Eleventh Circuit held in Bostock v. Clayton County Board of Commissioners, 723 F. App’x 964 (11th Cir. [8], Bostock believed that the county used the claim of misspent funds as a pretext for firing him for being gay, and sought legal recourse for workplace discrimination in 2016 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The statute’s message for our cases is equally simple and momentous: An individual’s homosexuality or transgender status is not relevant to employment decisions. to neck passionately: They were really sexing it up last night. That canon recognizes that Congress “does not alter the fundamental details of a regulatory scheme in vague terms or ancillary provisions.” Whitman v. American Trucking Assns., Inc., Not here. §229.08(16) (1961), and this law was used to target homosexual conduct. Altitude Express fired Donald Zarda days after he mentioned being gay. . See Osterman, Origins of a Myth: Why Courts, Scholars, and the Public Think Title VII’s Ban on Sex Discrimination Was an Accident, 20 Yale J. L. & Feminism 409, 409–410 (2009). 20 U. S. C. §1681(a) (Title IX); secondary sex character. Houghton Monogr. In her sixth year with the company, Ms. Stephens wrote a letter to her employer explaining that she planned to “ live and work full-time as a woman” after she returned from an upcoming vacation. Under established English usage, two sets of sex-specific singular personal pronouns are used to refer to someone in the third person (he, him, and his for males; she, her, and hers for females). To determine the sex of, by anatomical examination; to label as male or female. See, e.g., Smith v. Liberty Mut. without distinction or preference on account of . Pol. The Court’s ruling “comes at a great cost to representative self-government.” Hively, 853 F. 3d, at 360 (Sykes, J., dissenting). Transgender employees have brought suit under Title VII to challenge employer-provided health insurance plans that do not cover costly sex reassignment surgery. The answers to those questions must be no, unless discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity inherently constitutes discrimination because of sex. How specifically or generally should we frame the “application” at issue? In Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that it was bound by a prior case finding that “discharge for homosexuality is not protected by Title VII.” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, sitting en banc in Zarda v. sexual orientation,” etc.). The Court seemingly has the same opinion about our colleagues on the Courts of Appeals, because until 2017, every single Court of Appeals to consider the question interpreted Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination to mean discrimination on the basis of biological sex. Gerald Bostock, a gay man, began working for Clayton County, Georgia, as a child welfare services coordinator in 2003. To be sure, there may be cases in which a gay, lesbian, or transgender individual can make a claim like the one in Price Waterhouse. But because nothing in our approach to these cases turns on the outcome of the parties’ debate, and because the employees concede the point for argument’s sake, we proceed on the assumption that “sex” signified what the employers suggest, referring only to biological distinctions between male and female. In Phillips v. Martin Marietta Corp., Does the Court really think that Title VII prohibits discrimination on all these grounds? I have the greatest, and unyielding, respect for my colleagues and for their good faith. They contend that discrimination “because of sexual orientation” and discrimination “because of sex” are actually not separate categories of discrimination after all. ); Exec. Then try writing out instructions for who should check the box without using the words man, woman, or sex (or some synonym). To paraphrase something Justice Scalia once wrote, “our job is not to scavenge the world of English usage to discover whether there is any possible meaning” of discrimination because of sex that might be broad enough to encompass discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity. What today’s decision latches onto are Oncale’s comments about whether “ ‘male-on-male sexual harassment’ ” was on Congress’s mind when it enacted Title VII. [30] Certainly, neither term was in common parlance; indeed, dictionaries of the time still primarily defined the word “gender” by reference to grammatical classifications. See ibid. selection of modifiers, referents, or grammatical forms”). Yet the Court did not hesitate to recognize that Title VII’s plain terms forbade it. Would the employers have us undo every one of these unexpected applications too? (ed. 359 O detestable furie, not to be found in most cruell beasts, which spare the blood of their sexe. 107Stat. §2000e–2(a)(1). But unlike any of these other traits or actions, homosexuality and transgender status are inextricably bound up with sex. The employers also stress that homosexuality and transgender status are distinct concepts from sex, and that if Congress wanted to address these matters in Title VII, it would have referenced them specifically. on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the sixth circuit. . 1763 G. Williams in Jesse Selwyn & Contemp. Because the opinion of the Court flies a textualist flag, I have taken pains to show that it cannot be defended on textualist grounds. Although both the House and Senate have voted at different times to prohibit sexual orientation discrimination, the two Houses have not yet come together with the President to enact a bill into law. of Water and Power v. Manhart, Certainly nothing in the meager legislative history of this provision suggests it was meant to be read narrowly. There is no ambiguity or vagueness here.” Hively, 853 F. 3d, at 363 (dissenting opinion). At bottom, the employers’ argument unavoidably comes down to a suggestion that sex must be the sole or primary cause of an adverse employment action for Title VII liability to follow. The Court draws a distinction between things that are “inextricably” related and those that are related in “some vague sense.” Ante, at 10. But the question in these cases is not whether discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity should be outlawed. discrimination ‘because of sex’ is not reasonably understood to include discrimination based on sexual orientation, a different immutable characteristic. The majority opinion repeatedly seizes on the meaning of the statute’s individual terms, mechanically puts them back together, and generates an interpretation of the phrase “discriminate because of sex” that is literal. In each of the three cases, the employees sued and alleged sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Organs of sex: the reproductive organs in sexed animals or plants. 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. See post, at 9–12 (Alito, J., dissenting); post, at 12–13 (Kavanaugh, J., dissenting). In the words of Learned Hand: ‘a sterile literalism . discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s . [16], Bostock appealed to the Eleventh Circuit, where the three-judge panel affirmed the District Court's ruling in 2018. Random House Dictionary of the English Language 1307 (1966): sex (seks), n. 1. 42 U. S. C. The “difficult[y]” may owe something to the initial proponent of the sex discrimination rule in Title VII, Representative Howard Smith. Poesie III. 42 U. S. C. §2000e–2(m). Second, the plaintiff’s sex need not be the sole or primary cause of the employer’s adverse action. That idea holds some intuitive appeal too. Perf. Much of the plaintiff ’s evidence in Price Waterhouse was of this nature. 1814 Scott Ld. IV, §1 (emphasis added). First, courts must follow ordinary meaning, not literal meaning. Blanket Consent: Jun 26 2019: Joint appendix filed (in 17-1618). [48] This issue has already arisen under Title IX, where it threatens to undermine one of that law’s major achievements, giving young women an equal opportunity to participate in sports. Justice Gorsuch delivered the opinion of the Court. Nor did the Court concern itself with whether men as a group were subject to discrimination or whether something in addition to sex contributed to the discrimination, like the plaintiff ’s conduct or personal attributes. Supp.) Hospitals, Inc. v. Casey, But none of this is the law we have. The situation in California is illustrative. . Aside from these, what is there? The Court attempts to pass off its decision as the inevitable product of the textualist school of statutory interpretation championed by our late colleague Justice Scalia, but no one should be fooled. The employer hosts an office holiday party and invites employees to bring their spouses. “Legislation cannot sensibly be interpreted by stringing together dictionary synonyms of each word and proclaiming that, if the right example of the meaning of each is selected, the ‘plain meaning’ of the statute leads to a particular result. Viewing all these definitions, the overwhelming impact is that discrimination because of “sex” was understood during the era when Title VII was enacted to refer to men and women. The employer violated Title VII because, when its policy worked exactly as planned, it could not “pass the simple test” asking whether an individual female employee would have been treated the same regardless of her sex. That does not mean, however, that an employee or applicant for employment cannot prevail by showing that a challenged decision was based on a sex stereotype. It is hard to see how these holdings assist the Court. Of course not.” Ante, at 18. by itself does not constitute a psychiatric disorder”); see also APA, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 281–282 (3d ed. The Court held it was immaterial that members of the same sex as the victim committed the alleged discrimination. All these variants stress that sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity are related concepts. The Court stated that the statutory term “vehicle” does not cover an aircraft: “No doubt etymologically it is possible to use the word to signify a conveyance working on land, water or air . The place to make new legislation, or address unwanted consequences of old legislation, lies in Congress. 18-107 06-15-2020 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. Webster’s New International Dictionary 2296 (2d ed. Between these cases, as well as prior Circuit court decisions, there had been a split of opinions on whether sexual orientation discrimination is covered by Title VII. The lessons these cases hold are instructive here. . Next, the employers turn to Title VII’s list of protected characteristics—race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. To ferret out such shifts in linguistic usage or subtle distinctions between literal and ordinary meaning, this Court has sometimes consulted the understandings of the law’s drafters as some (not always conclusive) evidence. Now rare. iii. 22764–22779 (1981). They have advanced powerful policy arguments and can take pride in today's result. The Court tries to cloud the issue by spending many pages discussing matters that are beside the point. 105Stat. Justia Annotations is a forum for attorneys to summarize, comment on, and analyze case law published on our site. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a similar question of Title VII discrimination under the Civil Rights Act relating to transgender persons. ¶d. Argued October 8, 2019—Decided June 15, 2020* In each of these cases, an employer allegedly fired a long-time employee simply for being homosexual or transgender. I d note). And because this applicant would have to take into account his or her sex and that of the persons to whom he or she is sexually attracted to answer the question, it follows, the Court reasons, that an employer could not reject this applicant without taking the applicant’s sex into account. But the Court apparently thinks that this was because the Members were not “smart enough to realize” what its language means. In 1998, President Clinton charted a new path and signed an Executive Order prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination in federal employment. Bank v. Germain, 4. a 1665 Digby Chym. But two years into her service with the company, she began treatment for despair and loneliness. Three employers each fired a long-time employee for being homosexual or transgender. See Etsitty v. Utah Transit Authority, 502 F.3d 1215, 1220–1221 (CA10 2007). It indisputably did not. 964, reversed and remanded; No. Any assessment of congressional intent or legislative history seriously undermines the Court’s interpretation. Rec. 17, 2020) (challenging Connecticut policy allowing transgender students to compete in girls’ high school sports); Complaint in Hecox v. Little, No. 400 U.S. 542 (1971) (per curiam). On this theory, Representative Smith thought that prohibiting employment discrimination against women would be unacceptable to Members who might have otherwise voted in favor of the bill and that the addition of this prohibition might bring about the bill’s defeat. But as should be clear by now, the statute focuses on discrimination against individuals, not groups. In Bostock v. Clayton County the Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination against members LGBTQ community. 1586 J. Hooker Hist. Neither “sexual orientation” nor “gender identity” appears on that list. b Psychoanalysis. as, Brief for Petitioner in No. 1887 K. Pearson Eth. One definition, “to neck passionately,” Random House Dictionary 1307 (def. While it is possible that a statutory term that means one thing today or in one context might have meant something else at the time of its adoption or might mean something different in another context, the employers do not seek to use historical sources to illustrate that the meaning of any of Title VII’s language has changed since 1964 or that the statute’s terms ordinarily carried some missed message. 2) 49 There be sexes of hearbes .. namely, the Male or Female. But that’s an invitation no court should ever take up. XII. lxxi, Mad-making waters, sex trans-forming springs. (ed. Political groups distinguish the two. 1(a), June 25, 1958, 362 U. N. T. S. 32 (emphasis added). Ann., Tit. By discriminating against homosexuals, the employer intentionally penalizes men for being attracted to men and women for being attracted to women. Eskridge, Challenging the Apartheid of the Closet: Establishing Conditions for Lesbian and Gay Intimacy, Justices Douglas and Fortas thought that a homosexual is merely “one, who by some freak, is the product of an arrested development.”. The majority opinion insists that it is not rewriting or updating Title VII, but instead is just humbly reading the text of the statute as written. 1836 Thirlwall Greece xi. But motherhood, by definition, is a condition that can be experienced only by women, so a policy that distinguishes between motherhood and parenthood is necessarily a policy that draws a sex-based distinction. And no one batted an eye at its application to, say, post offices. According to the employers, that conversational answer, not the statute’s strict terms, should guide our thinking and suffice to defeat any suggestion that the employees now before us were fired because of sex. As the briefing in these cases has warned, the position that the Court now adopts will threaten freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and personal privacy and safety. Suppose that, while Title VII was under consideration in Congress, a group of average Americans decided to read the text of the bill with the aim of writing or calling their representatives in Congress and conveying their approval or disapproval. Thus, when textualism is properly understood, it calls for an examination of the social context in which a statute was enacted because this may have an important bearing on what its words were understood to mean at the time of enactment. All we can know for certain is that speculation about why a later Congress declined to adopt new legislation offers a “particularly dangerous” basis on which to rest an interpretation of an existing law a different and earlier Congress did adopt. Any such notion would have clashed in spectacular fashion with the societal norms of the day. 1953): sex (sĕks), n. [F. sexe, fr. Students in these latter categories have found success in athletic competitions reserved for females.[49]. Ante, at 5. And without taking history into account, it is not easy to see how the decisions in question fit the terms of Title VII. Title VII’s plain terms and our precedents don’t care if an employer treats men and women comparably as groups; an employer who fires both lesbians and gay men equally doesn’t diminish but doubles its liability. School Bd., 822 F.3d 709, 715 (CA4 2016), vacated and remanded, 580 U. S. ___ (2017); Adams v. 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