Sexual Orientation Bias: What Texas Employers Need To Know
Texas recently recognized sexual orientation as a protected class of individuals under federal and state law. These individuals now enjoy protection from discrimination and harassment in the workplace based on sexual orientation under both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) and the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (“TCHRA”). In Tarrant County College v. Sims, No. 05-20-00351-CV, 2021 WL 911928 (Tex. App. – Dallas March 10, 2021), for the first time, a Texas Court concluded that the TCHRA precludes discrimination based on “sexual orientation.” In reaching that conclusion, the court relied on recent federal court interpretation of the same issue under Title VII. Just a few months prior, in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, ___ U.S. ___, 140 S. Ct. 1731 (2020), the United States Supreme Court held that Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination “because of sex” encompasses “sexual orientation” and prohibits an employer from refusing to hire or from firing an individual for being gay or being transgender. Id. at 1738-43. The United States Supreme Court had made clear that an employer who discriminates against an individual for being gay or transgender violates Title VII. Id. at 1754.