Vanderbilt University is celebrating Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers from employment discrimination. Writing for a six-justice majority in Bostock v. Clayton County, Justice Neil Gorsuch concluded that “[a]n employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.” The university has prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation since 1991 and expanded its nondiscrimination policy to include gender identity in 2008.
The Supreme Court ruled June 15 that Title VII of the Civil Right Acts of 1964, which outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin, applies to discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity—making it illegal for an organization to fire an employee for either.
The ruling reaffirms Vanderbilt University’s Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Policy, which states that Vanderbilt “does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, military service or genetic information” in its administration of a host of educational policies, programs and activities, including employment, and it “does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their gender expression consistent with the university’s nondiscrimination policy.”
“Monday’s majority decision by the Supreme Court is a victory for all those committed to making our nation a fairer, more just place,” said André L. Churchwell, vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer.
“Part of our role as a university is to help each member of our community realize their fullest potential, which can only happen if they have the freedom and support to be their most authentic self,” Churchwell said. “The court’s ruling reaffirms the foundational principles of equality and inclusion embedded in our university’s fabric, which we must always strive to uphold and defend.”
“The incredible diversity of our workforce is just one aspect of what makes Vanderbilt such a richly rewarding place to work,” said Laura Nairon, interim associate vice chancellor for human capital and business services. “We celebrate this landmark decision, as it reinforces our longstanding commitment to making Vanderbilt a welcoming, inclusive and supportive community for all.”