LGBTQ Rights in Texas – The Day After The Supreme Court’s Opinion
The Supreme Court changed the law in Texas forever when it held in Bostock that LGBTQ discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It was an unexpected but joyous milestone. So, what does this mean moving forward?
Texas Employers Cannot Fire you For Being Gay
To start with the obvious: Texas employers (with 15 or more employees) can no longer fire gay employees/executives/workers because they are gay. Starting today, gay rights are civil rights. Texas employers can no longer fire you because you are transgender, or transitioning, or bisexual, or queer.
When Does This New Civil Right Take Effect?
Immediately. In fact, because the Supreme Court held the law was properly read to have always protected LGBTQ workers, this “change” is retroactive, meaning any workers who were fired within the statute of limitations for filing a Title VII Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC can still bring their case. The statute of limitations is generally 300 days from the adverse employment action, which often means 300 days from when your boss fired you.
In other words, if you were fired for being gay, trans, or otherwise because of your sexual orientation anytime after late August 2019, you have a live claim and should take action immediately to preserve your rights.
What Is the Effect on Texas Employers
Simple – Texas employers can no longer keep their heads in the sand regarding discrimination against the LGBTQ community in employment. For example, oil and gas companies, trucking companies, cement companies, and similar Texas businesses with 15 or more employees must ensure their supervisors do not discriminate against LGBTQ employees in the workplace.
What About Harassment?
This opinion also solidifies that LGBTQ harassment will violate Title VII. Therefore, Texas companies are from now on prohibited from allowing harassment of gay and trans employees in the same way they are prohibited from, for example, harassing female or African American employees. To be clear: LGBTQ harassment is now illegal in Texas.
What about Texas State Law
Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code prohibits sex discrimination using nearly identical language to Title VII, and Courts regularly adopt opinions interpreting Title VII to interpret Chapter 21. There is no reason whatsoever that Texas Law would not follow Bostock and prohibit LGBTQ discrimination from now on, however, that has not been ruled on by a Texas Court yet. This Firm’s projection is that Chapter 21 will be interpreted to provide the same protection, finally opening up the doors of not only federal but also state courthouses to LGBTQ employees who faced harassment and discrimination at work.
As always, if you, or a friend or loved one faced any of these issues, reach out to a texas employment lawyer to learn more about your rights.