Across the nation, including in Indiana, the nation continues to struggle at times with how to protect the rights of workers based on varying criteria. Since the 1960s, the Civil Rights Act has been invoked on multiple occasions to protect employees from unfair discrimination. It is specifically Title VII of that legislation that expressly prohibits employers from discriminating against people in specific identified protected classes.
The protected classes include people of a specific religion, ethnic background or country of origin. Sex is another factor on which employees are supposed to be free of concern about being discriminated against. However, it has come to light that the term “sex” in the context of the law is somewhat ambiguous. As reported by Vox, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has indicated it considers sexual orientation and gender identity to be inherently included in “sex” insofar as Title VII protections are concerned. Not everyone seems to agree with this, however.
Three separate cases are on their way to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. All three include a dispute over whether a person can be discriminated against based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. In one case, a woman was fired after revealing herself as transgender. In the other two cases, men were fired after their employers learned they were gay.
While some states have laws that protect against such discrimination, Indiana is not one of them. The decisions by the Supreme Court in these three cases may influence the development of federal protections or clarifications as to the current laws.