Were you fired after you began to transition or your employer found out you identified as a member of the LGBTQ+ community? When you applied for unemployment benefits did your employer claim you were fired for cause or for misconduct causing you to be denied unemployment benefits? South Carolina Legal Services may be able to help with your unemployment appeal.
On June 15, 2020, in the case of Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia,the Supreme Court held that an employer cannot discriminate against or fire an employee for being gay or transgender.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. “Sex” typically refers to the biological designation at birth of being male or female. Prior to this Supreme Court decision, LGBTQ+ employees facing discrimination due to their sexual orientation and gender expression were not considered protected under this law.
The Supreme Court reasoned that when an employer discriminates against an LGBTQ+ employee the employer is relying on sex when making the determination because the employer is firing an employee for behavior that would have been permitted in someone of another sex. Therefore, the Supreme Court held that firing an employee for being gay or transgender violates the Title VII prohibition on sex discrimination. Going forward LGBTQ+ employees should now be able to pursue Title VII discrimination claims on the basis of sex if being discriminated against for their sexual orientation or gender expression. More information on pursuing a discrimination claim can be found at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) website at https://www.eeoc.gov/.
If you are fired for a reason related to your sexual orientation or gender expression your employer will likely not admit to the Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) that they fired you because of your membership in the LGBTQ+ community. This discrimination may appear in more subtle forms. For example, employers may allege that you engaged in misconduct by repeatedly violating the dress code or that you engaged in unprofessional conduct or conduct out of line with the values of the employer. This could result in the DEW making an initial finding that you are disqualified from benefits because your employer terminated you “for cause” or for “misconduct.”
You can appeal this decision from the Department of Employment and workforce, but you must do so within ten days of the mailing date of the decision. Information on Navigating Unemployment Benefits During COVID-19 can be found on the South Carolina Legal Services YouTube Channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zci_tr9BHQ8.
If you were denied unemployment benefits please apply for services as soon as possible. You can apply for services using our telephone intake by calling 1-888-346-5592 or online at https://sclegal.org/ .
You can find tips for submitting an online application here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpxI3KR43c4.