The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas has ruled that employers are prohibited from discriminating against LGBTQ workers under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (TCHRA).
The TCHRA prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, among other protected characteristics, but previously did not expressly protect workers who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Queer (LGBTQ) based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
In June of 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Bostock v. Clayton County that the protected characteristic, "sex," includes an individual's sexual orientation and gender identity. This ruling added protections for LGBTQ workers from employment discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act.
The State Ruling:
In Tarrant County College District v. Sims, Amanda Sims alleged that her employer, Tarrant County College District, discriminated against her due to her sexual orientation. On March 10, 2021, a Texas Appeals Court sided with the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in Bostock v. Clayton County. The Court indicated that one of the general purposes of the TCHRA is to "provide for the execution of the policies of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its subsequent amendments." The ruling means that discrimination against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity is a form of sex discrimination and is not permitted under the TCHRA.
Employers in Texas should review their policies, practices, and supervisor training to determine if they need to make updates in light of the Court's decision. Please contact your dedicated service professional with any questions.