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BREAKING NEWS: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In LGBTQ Employment Cases

Employment Nondiscrimination

In June 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is illegal under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex in employment. As a result of this ruling, LGBTQ people across the country can continue to file complaints with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and seek recourse for discrimination in the workplace through federal courts.

Note that some states also have explicit laws against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and these are included below
. These state laws remain important so that LGBTQ people are protected against discrimination at every level of government, and because they are often passed alongside additional protections not yet enshrined in federal law, such as protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing and public places.  Some cities and counties also have such protections, and those are tracked here
United States Map
Washington New York U.S. Virgin Islands Puerto Rico Guam Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands American Samoa New Hampshire Vermont Virginia Pennsylvania New York Maine West Virginia Ohio Kentucky Indiana Michigan Illinois Wisconsin North Carolina South Carolina Tennessee Georgia Florida Mississippi Missouri Arkansas Louisiana Iowa Minnesota Oklahoma Kansas Nebraska South Dakota North Dakota Texas 33 Colorado Wyoming Montana Idaho Arizona Utah Nevada Oregon California Hawaii Alaska Massachusetts Rhode Island Connecticut New Jersey Delaware Maryland Washington D.C. New Hampshire Vermont
  • Federal law prohibits employment discrimination based on sex including sexual orientation and gender identity
  • State law explicitly prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity (click here for more). (23 states, 2 territories + D.C.)
Note that Title VII applies only to employers with 15 or more employees. Additional protections may exist at the state or local level. Individuals who have experienced discrimination should contact Lambda Legal's Help Desk or otherwise seek legal advice. This map is not intended as legal advice.

Recommended citation: 
Movement Advancement Project. "Equality Maps: Employment Nondiscrimination Laws."
https://www.lgbtmap.org/equality_maps/employment_non_discrimination_laws. Accessed [date of access].

A June 2020 Supreme Court ruling affirmed that LGBTQ people across the country are protected by federal law against discrimination in the workplace. A growing number of states and localities also have such protections, and these state and local laws remain important so that LGBTQ people are protected against discrimination at every level of government. These state and local laws also often include protections against discrimination beyond employment, such as ihousing and public places

State employment nondiscrimination laws protect LGBTQ people from being unfairly fired, not hired, or discriminated against in the workplace by private employers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. This map shows state nondiscrimination laws that explicitly enumerate sexual orientation and/or gender identity as protected classes, as well as states that explicitly interpret existing sex protections to include sexual orientation and/or gender identity. 
United States Map
As a result of a June 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, people in all states can seek recourse for employment discrimination based sexual orientation and gender identity through the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and federal courts.
  • State law explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (22 states, 2 territories + D.C.)
  • State explicitly interprets existing prohibition on sex discrimination to include sexual orientation and/or gender identity (see note) (3 states, 0 territories)
  • State law explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation only (1 state, 0 territories)
  • No explicit prohibitions for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in state law (24 states, 3 territories)
*Michigan's nondiscrimination law does not explicitly enumerate sexual orientation or gender identity, but the Michigan Civil Rights Commission has stated it explicitly interprets the state's existing protections against sex discrimination to include protections for both sexual orientation and gender identity (2018).
*Missouri's Supreme Court 
held in February 2019 that, under Missouri law, it is illegal for employers to discriminate based on sex stereotypes. While the finding did not explicitly say that discrimination based on sexual orientation is a form of sex stereotyping, the decision does affirm the right of LGBTQ Missourians to bring charges of employment discrimination based on sex stereotyping.
*Pennsylvania's  nondiscrimination law does not explicitly enumerate sexual orientation or gender identity, but the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission has stated it explicitly interprets the state's existing protections against sex discrimination to include protections for both sexual orientation and gender identity (2018).

Individuals who have experienced discrimination should contact
Lambda Legal's Help Desk or otherwise seek legal advice. This map is not intended as legal advice.

Recommended citation: 
Movement Advancement Project. "Equality Maps: Employment Nondiscrimination Laws."
https://www.lgbtmap.org/equality_maps/employment_non_discrimination_laws. Accessed [date of access].

Percent of Adult LGBTQ Population Covered by Laws

*Note: These percentages reflect estimates of the LGBTQ adult population living in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Estimates of the LGBTQ adult population in the five inhabited U.S. territories are not available, and so cannot be reflected here.

50%

50 % of LGBTQ population lives in states prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity

7%

7 % of LGBTQ population lives in states explicitly interpreting existing prohibition on sex discrimination to include sexual orientation and/or gender identity

2%

2 % of LGBTQ population lives in states prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation only

42%

42 % of LGBTQ population lives in states that do not prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity (including 5% of LGBTQ population living in states that preempt local nondiscrimination laws)

A June 2020 Supreme Court ruling affirmed that LGBTQ people across the country are protected by federal law against discrimination in the workplace. A growing number of states and localities also have such protections, and these state and laws remain important so that LGBTQ people are protected against discrimination at every level of government. These state and local laws also often include protections against discrimination beyond employment, such as in housing and public places. See here for additional tracking of local ordinances in those areas.

This map shows state laws and local ordinances prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.  Specifically, the map shows the percent of each state’s population that is protected by local ordinances against employment discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity.  For more information about a state's local-level coverage, including whether there are fewer protections for gender identity than sexual orientation, please see the the detailed information in each state’s profile by clicking on that state in the map below.
United States Map
As a result of a June 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, people in all states can seek recourse for employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity through the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and federal courts.
  • Percent of the state population protected by state laws or local nondiscrimination ordinances from discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Percent of the state population protected by local ordinances from discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity
  • State has law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, but not gender identity
  • State has law preventing passage or enforcement of local nondiscrimination ordinances
Note that enforcement mechanisms within these ordinances varies by jurisdiction. Note also that some jurisdictions may prohibit discrimination in public employment (i.e., government employees only), but only ordinances that prohibit discrimination in private employment are included here.

Recommended citation:
Movement Advancement Project. "Equality Maps: Employment Nondiscrimination Laws."
https://www.lgbtmap.org/equality_maps/employment_non_discrimination_laws. Accessed [date of access].

Percent of Adult LGBTQ Population Covered by Laws

*Note: These percentages reflect estimates of the LGBTQ adult population living in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Estimates of the LGBTQ adult population in the five inhabited U.S. territories are not available, and so cannot be reflected here.

Click here for a list of city and county ordinances by state.

This map shows state laws or policies that prohibit discrimination against state employees on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. As a result of a 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, state employees can seek recourse for employment discrimination based sexual orientation and gender identity through the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and federal courts.
United States Map
As a result of a June 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, people in all states can seek recourse for employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity through the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and federal courts.
  • Public employment non-discrimination policy covers gender identity and sexual orientation (31 states, 3 territories + D.C.)
  • State explicitly interprets existing prohibition on sex discrimination to include sexual orientation and/or gender identity (see note) ( states,  territories)
  • Public employment non-discrimination policy covers only sexual orientation, though federal law offers some protections (see note) (3 states, 1 territory)
  • No employment non-discrimination policy covering sexual orientation or gender identity, though federal law offers some protections (see note) (16 states, 1 territory)
Recommended citation:
Movement Advancement Project. "Equality Maps: State Non-Discrimination Laws." https://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps/non_discrimination_laws (date of access).

Percent of Adult LGBTQ Population Covered by Laws

*Note: These percentages reflect estimates of the LGBTQ adult population living in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Estimates of the LGBTQ adult population in the five inhabited U.S. territories are not available, and so cannot be reflected here.

69%

69 % of the LGBTQ population lives in states with policies that protect state employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity

0%

0 % of the LGBTQ population lives in states that explicitly interpret existing prohibition on sex discrimination to include sexual orientation and/or gender identity

4%

4 % of the LGBTQ population lives in states with policies that protect state employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation only

27%

27 % of the LGBTQ population lives in states with no state policy prohibiting discrimination in public employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity (including 5% of LGBTQ population living in states that preempt local nondiscrimination laws)

Data current as of 07/02/2020
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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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