Jun 15, 2020 — male plaintiff alleged a triable Title VII claim for sexual being gay or transgender and not because of sex. ix-transgender.pdf.

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(Slip Opinion) OCTOBER TERM, 2019 1 Syllabus NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued. The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader. See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337. SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES Syllabus BOSTOCK v. CLAYTON COUNTY, GEORGIA CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT No. 17Œ1618. Argued October 8, 2019ŠDecided June 15, 2020* In each of these cases, an employer allegedly fired a long-time employee simply for being homosexual or transgender. Clayton County, Geor- gia, fired Gerald Bostock for cond uct fiunbecomingfl a county employee shortly after he began participating in a gay recreational softball league. Altitude Express fired Donald Zarda days after he mentioned being gay. And R. G. & G. R. Harris Funeral Homes fired Aimee Ste- phens, who presented as a male wh en she was hired, after she in- formed her employer that she planned to filive and work full-time as a woman.fl Each employee sued, allegi ng sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Eleventh Circuit held that Title VII does not prohibit employer s from firing employees for being gay and so Mr. Bostock™s suit could be dismissed as a matter of law. The Second and Sixth Circuits, however, allowed the claims of Mr. Zarda and Ms. Stephens, respectively, to proceed. Held: An employer who fire s an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII. Pp. 4Œ33. (a) Title VII makes it fiunlawful . . . for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any indivi dual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual . . . because of such individual™s race, color, re- ligion, sex, or national origin.fl 42 U. S. C. §2000eŒ2(a)(1). The straightforward application of Title VII™s terms interpreted in accord ŠŠŠŠŠŠ * Together with No. 17Œ1623, Altitude Express, Inc., et al. v. Zarda et al., as Co-Independent Executors of the Estate of Zarda , on certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and No. 18Œ 107, R. G. & G. R. Harris Funeral Homes , Inc. v. Equal Employment Op- portunity Commission et al. , on certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

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2 BOSTOCK v. CLAYTON COUNTY Syllabus with their ordinary public meaning at the time of their enactment re -solves these cases. Pp. 4Œ12. (1) The parties concede that the term fisexfl in 1964 referred to the biological distinctions between ma le and female. And fithe ordinary meaning of ‚because of™ is ‚by reason of™ or ‚on account of,™ fl University of Tex. Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, 570 U. S. 338, 350. That term incorporates the but-for causation standard, id., at 346, 360, which, for Title VII, means that a defendant cannot avoid liability just by citing some other factor that contributed to its challenged employ-ment action. The term fidiscriminatefl meant fi[t]o make a difference in treatment or favor (of one as compared with others).fl Webster™s New International Dictionary 745. In so-called fidisparate treatmentfl cases, this Court has held that the difference in treatment based on sex must be intentional. See, e.g. , Watson v. Fort Worth Bank & Trust , 487 U. S. 977, 986. And the statute™s repeated use of the term fiindi – vidualfl means that the focus is on fi[a] particular being as distin -guished from a class.fl Webster™s New International Dictionary, at 1267. Pp. 4Œ9. (2) These terms generate the follo wing rule: An employer violates Title VII when it intentionally fires an individual employee based in part on sex. It makes no difference if other factors besides the plain -tiff™s sex contributed to the decisi on or that the employer treated women as a group the same when compared to men as a group. A statutory violation occurs if an employer inte ntionally relies in part on an individual employee™s sex when de ciding to discharge the employee. Because discrimination on the basis of homosexuality or transgender status requires an employer to intentionally treat individual employ -ees differently because of their sex, an employer who intentionally pe -nalizes an employee for being homosexual or transgender also violates Title VII. There is no escaping the role intent plays: Just as sex is necessarily a but-for cause when an employer discriminates against homosexual or transgender employees, an employer who discriminates on these grounds inescapably intends to rely on sex in its decisionmak-ing. Pp. 9Œ12. (b) Three leading precedents conf irm what the statute™s plain terms suggest. In Phillips v. Martin Marietta Corp., 400 U. S. 542, a com -pany was held to have violated Ti tle VII by refusing to hire women with young children, despite the fact that the discrimination also de -pended on being a parent of young children and the fact that the com -pany favored hiring women over men. In Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power v. Manhart, 435 U. S. 702, an employer™s policy of requiring women to make larger pension fund contributions than men because women tend to live longer was held to violate Title VII, notwithstand – ing the policy™s evenhandedness between men and women as groups.

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3 Cite as: 590 U. S. ____ (2020) Syllabus And in Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc., 523 U. S. 75, a male plaintiff alleged a triable Title VII claim for sexual harassment by co-workers who were members of the same sex. The lessons these cases hold are inst ructive here. First, it is irrele -vant what an employer might call its discriminatory practice, how oth – ers might label it, or what else might motivate it. In Manhart , the employer might have called its rule a filife expectancyfl adjustment, and in Phillips , the employer could have accura tely spoken of its policy as one based on fimotherhood.fl But such labels and additional intentions or motivations did not make a difference there, and they cannot make a difference here. When an employ er fires an employee for being ho -mosexual or transgender, it nece ssarily intentionally discriminates against that individual in part because of sex. Second, the plaintiff™s sex need not be the sole or primar y cause of the employer™s adverseaction. In Phillips, Manhart , and Oncale , the employer easily couldhave pointed to some other, nonprotected trait and insisted it was the more important factor in the advers e employment outcome. Here, too, it is of no significance if another factor, such as the plaintiff™s attrac -tion to the same sex or presentati on as a different sex from the one assigned at birth, might also be at work, or even play a more important role in the employer™s decision. Finally, an employer cannot escape liability by demonstrating that it treats males and females comparably as groups. Manhart is instructive here. An employer who intention -ally fires an individual homosexual or transgender employee in partbecause of that individual™s sex viol ates the law even if the employer is willing to subject all male and female homosexual or transgender employees to the same rule. Pp. 12Œ15. (c) The employers do not dispute that they fired their employees for being homosexual or transgender. Rather, they contend that even in -tentional discrimination against em ployees based on their homosexual or transgender status is not a basis for Title VII liability. But their statutory text arguments have already been rejected by this Court™s precedents. And none of their othe r contentions about what they think the law was meant to do, or should do, allow for ignoring the law as it is. Pp. 15Œ33. (1) The employers assert that it should make a difference that plaintiffs would likely respond in conv ersation that they were fired for being gay or transgender and not beca use of sex. But conversational conventions do not control Title VII™ s legal analysis, which asks simply whether sex is a but-for cause. Nor is it a defense to insist that inten -tional discrimination based on homo sexuality or transgender status is not intentional discrimination based on sex. An employer who discrim -inates against homosexual or transgender employees necessarily and intentionally applies sex-based rules. Nor does it make a difference

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4 BOSTOCK v. CLAYTON COUNTY Syllabus that an employer could refuse to hi re a gay or transgender individual without learning that person™s sex. By intentionally setting out a rule that makes hiring turn on sex, the employer violates the law, whatever he might know or not know about in dividual applicants. The employ -ers also stress that homosexuality and transgender status are distinct concepts from sex, and that if Co ngress wanted to address these mat-ters in Title VII, it would have refe renced them specifically. But when Congress chooses not to include any exceptions to a broad rule, this Court applies the broad rule. Finally, the employers suggest that be -cause the policies at issue have the same adverse consequences for men and women, a stricter causation test should apply. That argu -ment unavoidably comes down to a suggestion that sex must be the sole or primary cause of an adverse employment action under Title VII,a suggestion at odds with the statute. Pp. 16Œ23. (2) The employers contend that few in 1964 would have expected Title VII to apply to discrimination against homosexual and transgender persons. But legislative history has no bearing here, where no ambiguity exists about how Title VII™s terms apply to the facts. See Milner v. Department of Navy, 562 U. S. 562, 574. While it is possible that a statutory term th at means one thing today or in one context might have meant something el se at the time of its adoption or might mean something different in another context, the employers do not seek to use historical source s to illustrate that the meaning of any of Title VII™s language has changed since 1964 or that the statute™s terms ordinarily carried some missed message. Instead, they seem to say when a new application is both unexpected and important, even if it is clearly commanded by existing law, the Court should merely point out the question, refer th e subject back to Congress, and decline to en -force the law™s plain terms in the meantime. This Court has long re -jected that sort of reasoning. And the employers™ new framing mayonly add new problems and leave the Court with more than a little law to overturn. Finally, th e employers turn to naked policy appeals, sug -gesting that the Court proceed without the law™s guidance to do what it thinks best. That is an invitation that no court should ever take up. Pp. 23Œ33. No. 17Œ1618, 723 Fed. Appx. 964, reversed and remanded; No. 17Œ1623, 883 F. 3d 100, and No. 18Œ107, 884 F. 3d 560, affirmed. GORSUCH, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which R OBERTS, C. J., and G INSBURG , B REYER, S OTOMAYOR, and K AGAN, JJ., joined. A LITO , J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which T HOMAS , J., joined. KAVANAUGH, J., filed a dissenting opinion.

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_________________ _________________ 1 Cite as: 590 U. S. ____ (2020) Opinion of the Court NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested to notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Wash -ington, D. C. 20543, of any typographical or other form al errors, in order that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press. SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES Nos. 17Œ1618, 17Œ1623 and 18Œ107 GERALD LYNN BOSTOCK, PETITIONER 17Œ1618 v. CLAYTON COUNTY, GEORGIA ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT ALTITUDE EXPRESS, INC., ET AL., PETITIONERS 17Œ1623 v. MELISSA ZARDA AND WILLIAM ALLEN MOORE, J R., CO-INDEPENDENT EXECUTORS OF THE ESTATE OF DONALD ZARDA ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT R.G. & G.R. HARRIS FUNERAL HOMES, INC., PETITIONER 18Œ107 v. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, ET AL . ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT [June 15, 2020] JUSTICE GORSUCH delivered the opinion of the Court.

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2 BOSTOCK v. CLAYTON COUNTY Opinion of the Court Sometimes small gestures can have unexpected conse -quences. Major initiatives practically guarantee them. In our time, few pieces of federal legislation rank in signifi – cance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There, in Title VII, Congress outlawed discrimination in the workplace on thebasis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear. An employer who fires an individual for being ho -mosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or ac-tions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids. Those who adopted the Civil Rights Act might not haveanticipated their work would lead to this particular result. Likely, they weren™t thinking about many of the Act™s con – sequences that have become apparent over the years, in -cluding its prohibition against discrimination on the basis of motherhood or its ban on the sexual harassment of male employees. But the limits of the drafters™ imagination sup -ply no reason to ignore the law™s demands. When the ex -press terms of a statute give us one answer and extratex -tual considerations suggest another, it™s no contest. Only the written word is the law, and all persons are entitled to its benefit. I Few facts are needed to appreciate the legal question we face. Each of the three cases before us started the same way: An employer fired a long-time employee shortly after the employee revealed that he or she is homosexual or transgenderŠand allegedly for no reason other than the employee™s homosexuality or transgender status. Gerald Bostock worked for Cl ayton County, Georgia, as a child welfare advocate. Under his leadership, the county won national awards for its work . After a decade with the

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4 BOSTOCK v. CLAYTON COUNTY Opinion of the Court their transgender status. 884 F. 3d 560 (2018). During the course of the proceedings in these long-running disputes, both Mr. Zarda and Ms. Stephens have passed away. But their estates continue to pre ss their causes for the benefit of their heirs. And we granted certiorari in these matters to resolve at last the disagreement among the courts of ap-peals over the scope of Title VII™s protections for homosex – ual and transgender persons. 587 U. S. ___ (2019). II This Court normally interprets a statute in accord with the ordinary public meaning of its terms at the time of its enactment. After all, only th e words on the page constitute the law adopted by Congress and approved by the Presi – dent. If judges could add to , remodel, update, or detract from old statutory terms insp ired only by extratextual sources and our own imaginations, we would risk amending statutes outside the legislative process reserved for the peo -ple™s representatives. And we would deny the people the right to continue relying on the original meaning of the law they have counted on to settle their rights and obligations. See New Prime Inc. v. Oliveira , 586 U. S. ___, ___Œ___ (2019) (slip op., at 6Œ7). With this in mind, our task is clear. We must determine the ordinary public meaning of Title VII™s command that it is fiunlawful . . . for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual™s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.fl §2000eŒ2(a)(1). To do so, we orient ourselves to the time of the statute™s adoption , here 1964, and begin by ex -amining the key statutory terms in turn before assessing their impact on the cases at hand and then confirming our work against this Court™s precedents.

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5 Cite as: 590 U. S. ____ (2020) Opinion of the Court A The only statutorily protecte d characteristic at issue in today™s cases is fisexflŠand that is also the primary term in Title VII whose meaning the parties dispute. Appealing to roughly contemporaneous dictionaries, the employers say that, as used here, the term fisexfl in 1964 referred to fistatus as either male or female [as] determined by reproductive biology.fl The employees counter by submitting that, even in 1964, the term bore a broader scope, capturing more than anatomy and reaching at least some norms concerning gen -der identity and sexual orientation. But because nothing in our approach to these cases turns on the outcome of the par-ties™ debate, and because the employees concede the pointfor argument™s sake, we proceed on the assumption that fisexfl signified what the empl oyers suggest, referring only to biological distinctions between male and female. Still, that™s just a starting point. The question isn™t just what fisexfl meant, but what Title VII says about it. Most notably, the statute prohibit s employers from taking cer -tain actions fibecause of fl sex. And, as this Court has previ -ously explained, fithe ordinary meaning of ‚because of ™ is ‚by reason of™ or ‚on account of.™ fl University of Tex. Southwest -ern Medical Center v. Nassar , 570 U. S. 338, 350 (2013) (cit -ing Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc., 557 U. S. 167, 176 (2009); quotation altered). In the language of law, this means that Title VII™s fibecause of fl test incorporates the fi‚simple™fl and fitraditionalfl standard of but-for causation. Nassar, 570 U. S., at 346, 360. That form of causation is established whenever a particular outcome would not have happened fibut forfl the purported cause. See Gross, 557 U. S., at 176. In other words, a but-for test directs us to change one thing at a time and see if the outcome changes. If it does, we have found a but-for cause. This can be a sweeping standard. Often, events have multiple but-for causes. So, for example, if a car accident

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6 BOSTOCK v. CLAYTON COUNTY Opinion of the Court occurred both because the defendant ran a red light and be-cause the plaintiff failed to signal his turn at the intersec -tion, we might call each a but-for cause of the collision. Cf. Burrage v. United States , 571 U. S. 204, 211Œ212 (2014). When it comes to Title VII, the adoption of the traditionalbut-for causation standard means a defendant cannot avoid liability just by citing some other factor that contributed to its challenged employment deci sion. So long as the plain-tiff ™s sex was one but-for cause of that decision, that is enough to trigger the law. See ibid .; Nassar, 570 U. S., at 350. No doubt, Congress could have taken a more parsimoni -ous approach. As it has in other statutes, it could have added fisolelyfl to indicate that actions taken fibecause of fl the confluence of multiple factors do not violate the law. Cf. 11 U. S. C. §525; 16 U. S. C. §511. Or it could have written fiprimarily because of fl to indicate that the prohibited factor had to be the main cause of the defendant™s challenged em – ployment decision. Cf. 22 U. S. C. §2688. But none of this is the law we have. If anything, Congress has moved in the opposite direction, supplementing Title VII in 1991 to allow a plaintiff to prevail merely by showing that a protected trait like sex was a fimotivating factorfl in a defendant™s challenged employment practice. Civil Rights Act of 1991, §107, 105 Stat. 1075, codified at 42 U. S. C. §2000eŒ2(m). Under this more forgiving standard, liability can sometimes follow even if sex wasn™t a but-for cause of the employer™s challenged decision. Still, because nothing in our analysis depends on the motivating factor test, we focus on the more traditional but-for causation standard that continues to af – ford a viable, if no longer exclusive, path to relief under Ti-tle VII. §2000eŒ2(a)(1). As sweeping as even the but-for causation standard canbe, Title VII does not concern itself with everything that happens fibecause of fl sex. The statute imposes liability on

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7 Cite as: 590 U. S. ____ (2020) Opinion of the Court employers only when they fifail or refuse to hire,fl fidis-charge,fl fior otherwise . . . discriminate againstfl someone because of a statutorily protec ted characteristic like sex. Ibid. The employers acknowledge that they discharged the plaintiffs in today™s cases, but assert that the statute™s list of verbs is qualified by the last item on it: fiotherwise . . . discriminate against.fl By virtue of the word otherwise , the employers suggest, Title VII concerns itself not with every discharge, only with those discharges that involve discrim -ination. Accepting this point, too, for argument™s sake, the ques -tion becomes: What did fidiscriminatefl mean in 1964? As it turns out, it meant then roughly what it means today: fiTo make a difference in treatme nt or favor (of one as com -pared with others).fl Webster ™s New International Diction -ary 745 (2d ed. 1954). To fidiscriminate againstfl a person, then, would seem to mean treating that individual worse than others who are similarly situated. See Burlington N. & S. F. R. Co. v. White, 548 U. S. 53, 59 (2006). In so-called fidisparate treatmentfl cases like today™s, this Court has also held that the difference in treatment based on sex must be intentional. See, e.g., Watson v. Fort Worth Bank & Trust, 487 U. S. 977, 986 (1988). So, taken together, an employer who intentionally treats a person worse because of sexŠ such as by firing the person for actions or attributes it would tolerate in an individ ual of another sexŠdiscrimi -nates against that person in violation of Title VII. At first glance, another interpretation might seem possi -ble. Discrimination sometimes involves fithe act, practice, or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individually.fl Webster™s New Collegiate Dictionary 326 (1975); see also post, at 27Œ28, n. 22 (A LITO, J., dissenting).On that understanding, the statute would require us to con – sider the employer™s treatment of groups rather than indi-viduals, to see how a policy affects one sex as a whole versus the other as a whole. That idea holds some intuitive appeal

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