HR Alert: What is Title VII and Which LGBTQ+ Workers Does it Cover?

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Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. For years, it wasn’t clear whether Title VII’s “sex” language protected LGBTQ+ workers. But now, because of a 2020 Supreme Court decision, we know that Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or transgender status.

Employers may wonder whether the Supreme Court’s decision means that Title VII protects all LGBTQ+ workers from discrimination. The answer is that it doesn’t. Title VII protects job applicants, current employees, and former employees, but only if their employers have 15 or more employees. And, while it protects workers regardless of citizenship or immigration status, it doesn’t protect workers who are classified as independent contractors.

For our friends in New York, the NY Human Rights Law already protects workers and independent contractors on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status and there is no number-of-employees threshold for New York law.

We’re focusing on these rights during Pride Month. Look forward to the next in our series of easily-understandable employment guidance. And in the meantime, reach out to The Coppola Firm if you have a question or concern that needs attention.

Lisa Coppola

Written by Lisa Coppola

Founder of The Coppola Firm

Lisa A. Coppola, Esq. understands the challenges her clients face, whether they’re starting a new business, taking their existing operations in a new direction, or facing a claim or threat.

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