Man talking to woman while writing on notepad, framed by justice scale on desk.

The Supreme Court of the United States kicked off its 2019-2020 term on October 7, 2019, with several noteworthy cases on its docket. This term, some of the issues before the Court will likely have great historical significance for the LGBTQ community. Among these controversies are whether the prohibition against discrimination because of sex under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 encompasses discrimination because of sexual orientation. In addition, the Court is slated to consider Title VII’s protections of transgender individuals, if any. Here’s a rundown of the employment law related cases that Supreme Court watchers can expect this term.

Title VII and Sexual Orientation

In Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, No. 17-1618, and Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, No. 17-1623, the Court will consider whether discrimination against an employee because of sexual orientation constitutes prohibited employment discrimination “because of . . . sex” within the meaning of Title VII. Oral argument for these consolidated cases is scheduled for October 8, 2019.

Transgender Employees

In R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, No. 18-107, the Court agreed to decide whether Title VII prohibits discrimination against transgender individuals based on (1) their status as transgender or (2) sex stereotyping under Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins. Oral argument for this case is scheduled for October 8, 2019.

Age Discrimination

In Babb v. Wilkie, No. 18-882, the Court will consider a provision in the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 regarding federal-sector coverage. The provision at issue requires employers taking personnel actions affecting agency employees aged 40 years or older to be free from “discrimination based on age.” The issue is whether the federal-sector provision requires a plaintiff to prove that age was a but-for cause of a challenged personnel action. A date has not yet been set for oral arguments in this case.

Employee Benefits

In Intel Corp. Investment Policy Committee v. Sulyma, No. 18-1116, the Supreme Court agreed to settle an issue concerning the statute of limitation in Section 413(2) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. The three-year limitations period runs from “the earliest date on which the plaintiff had actual knowledge of the breach or violation.” The question for the Court is whether this limitations period bars suit when the defendants in a case had disclosed all relevant information to the plaintiff more than three years before the plaintiff filed a complaint, but the plaintiff chose not to read or could not recall having read the information. Oral arguments in this case are scheduled for December 4, 2019.

We will report in further details on these cases once the Supreme Court issues its rulings. Stay tuned.


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