"U.S. Supreme Court's LGBTQ rights ruling is a big change for S.C.," South Carolina Lawyers Weekly

Posted On July 1, 2020

In an article published in South Carolina Lawyers Weekly on June 30, 2020, Reggie Belcher discusses the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, in which the court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal law that bans employment discrimination on the basis of sex, also prohibits employers from firing an employee simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. He also discusses this historic decision’s impact in the state of South Carolina, which doesn’t have any state laws that protect LGBTQ employees from discrimination.

“This is a big deal. It’s a very significant decision,” explains Belcher. “This is the first time we’ve had a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

The article also mentions that employees can also bring Title VII claims alleging a hostile work environment, where harassment by co-workers is so severe and pervasive that it negatively affects their ability to work.

Belcher said that here too some companies are already ahead of the law and have internal policies prohibiting harassment of LGBTQ employees. But the consequences for violating federal law are much more severe than those for violating internal policies, and in recent years courts have become less tolerant of racist or sexist conduct in the workplace and are more willing to conclude that a work environment is hostile.

“What I’ve seen firsthand is that the workplace always follows society,” said Belcher. “Whenever you see changes in society, eventually you’re going to see those same changes permeate through workplaces. And I think that’s what we’ve seen here. It was only a matter of time before we saw this happen in the workplace.”

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