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Case Name Bostock v. Clayton County EE-GA-0114
Docket / Court 1:16-cv-001460-ODE-WEJ ( N.D. Ga. )
State/Territory Georgia
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Case Summary
This was the lead case before the Supreme Court in 2020 when it held that "[a]n employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964]."

District Court
On May 5, 2016, a male county employee filed this lawsuit, ... read more >
This was the lead case before the Supreme Court in 2020 when it held that "[a]n employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964]."

District Court
On May 5, 2016, a male county employee filed this lawsuit, pro se, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, against his employer, the Clayton County Board of Commissioners. He sued for damages under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, claiming that the defendants, as his employer, had violated Title VII by discriminating against him on the basis of sexual orientation. Specifically, he claimed that his employer had terminated him, despite 10 years of positive past performance evaluations, from his position as the Child Welfare Services Coordinator assigned to the Juvenile Court of Clayton County after finding out that he was participating in a gay recreational softball league. He also alleged other incidents of harassment at work. The case was assigned to Judge Orinda D. Evans on May 9, 2016.

On August 2, 2016, the plaintiff had acquired the assistance of private counsel and filed a first amended complaint, in which he sought declaratory judgment, a permanent injunction to prevent his employer from engaging in unlawful employment practices in violation of Title VII, full backpay from his termination date, reinstatement to his former position, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorneys' fees.

On August 23, 2016, the employer filed a motion to dismiss claiming that Title VII does not encompass discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and because the Board of Commissioners was not capable of being sued. The plaintiff requested leave to file a second amended complaint on September 9, 2016.

On September 12, 2016, the plaintiff filed a second amended complaint. In the complaint, the plaintiff changed the defendant to be Clayton County and amended the allegations to discuss his discrimination as based on sexual orientation and failure to conform to a gender stereotype.

On September 26, 2016, the employer filed a motion to dismiss the second amended complaint for failure to state a claim. It argued that Title VII does not include claims on the basis of sexual orientation. In November 2016, Magistrate Judge Walter E. Johnson recommended to grant the employer's motion. 2016 WL 9753356. However, the district court deferred decision until the 11th Circuit gave a decision in Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, another Title VII case regarding discrimination based on sexual orientation.

On July 21, 2017, Judge Evans adopted the magistrate's report and recommendation and granted the County's motion to dismiss the case. The court found (1) that the 11th Circuit had foreclosed claims under Title VII for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; and (2) the plaintiff had not adequately pleaded facts of gender stereotyping. 2017 WL 4456898.

Court of Appeals
The plaintiff appealed to the 11th Circuit on August 11, 2017 (docket no. 17-1380). In May 2018, the 11th Circuit affirmed the decision of the lower court. 723 Fed. App'x 964 (Mem), reh'g denied, 894 F.3d 1335.

U.S. Supreme Court
On June 1, 2018, the plaintiff filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States, which was granted on April 22, 2019. 139 S.Ct. 1599. The case was consolidated with Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc. and EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. for briefing and oral argument. In the other cases, plaintiffs' counsel was the ACLU and the Stanford Law School Supreme Court Clinic; those lawyers did the oral argument here, as well.

Oral argument occurred on October 8, 2019 and the Supreme Court rendered its decision on June 15, 2020. Writing for a 6-3 majority, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that Title VII prohibits employers from engaging in discrimination "because of" sex. Justice Gorsuch stated that the statutory language "because of" implies a but-for causation analysis, meaning that "so long as the plaintiff's sex was one but-for cause of that decision [to fire], that is enough to trigger the law." The opinion stated that "if an employer would not have discharged an employee but for that individual's sex, the statute's causation standard is met and liability may attach." LGBT discrimination against employees met this test, because "an employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have question in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids." 590 U.S. ___.

The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Eleventh Circuit and remanded for further proceedings. The case remains ongoing.

Caitlin Kierum - 11/12/2019
Jack Hibbard - 06/15/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-area
Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff
Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
Sexual orientatation
General
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) Clayton County
Plaintiff Description A man fired from his job on the basis of his sexual orientation
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 05/05/2016
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing EE-NY-0289 : Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc. (E.D.N.Y.)
EE-MI-0202 : EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. (E.D. Mich.)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Bostock v. Clayton County
www.oyez.org
Date: Jun. 15, 2020
By: Oyez
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia
SCOTUS Blog
Date: Jun. 15, 2020
By: SCOTUS Blog
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
N.D. Ga. 1:16−cv−01460
EE-GA-0114-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/20/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
N.D. Ga.
Pro Se Employment Discrimination Complaint Form [ECF# 1]
EE-GA-0114-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/05/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ga.
Second Amended Complaint [ECF# 10]
EE-GA-0114-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/12/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ga.
Final Report and Recommendation [ECF# 16] (2016 WL 9753356)
EE-GA-0114-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 11/03/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ga.
Order [ECF# 24] (2017 WL 4456898)
EE-GA-0114-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/21/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
U.S. Court of Appeals
Opinion [Ct. of App. ECF# 30] (723 Fed.Appx. 964)
EE-GA-0114-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/10/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
U.S. Supreme Court
Petition For Writ Of Certiorari
EE-GA-0114-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/25/2018
Source: Supreme Court website
U.S. Supreme Court
Brief for Petitioner
EE-GA-0114-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/02/2018
Source: Supreme Court website
U.S. Supreme Court
Respondent's Brief in Opposition to Petition for Writ of Certiorari
EE-GA-0114-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/10/2018
Source: Supreme Court website
U.S. Supreme Court
Joint Appendix
EE-GA-0114-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/26/2019
Source: Supreme Court website
U.S. Supreme Court
Brief for Petitioner
EE-GA-0114-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/26/2019
Source: Supreme Court website
U.S. Supreme Court
[Opinion] (140 S.Ct. 1731)
EE-GA-0114-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/15/2020
Source: Supreme Court website
show all people docs
Judges Alito, Samuel A. Jr. (Third Circuit, SCOTUS) show/hide docs
EE-GA-0114-0007
Evans, Orinda Dale (N.D. Ga.) show/hide docs
EE-GA-0114-0005 | EE-GA-0114-9000
Gorsuch, Neil M. (Tenth Circuit, SCOTUS) show/hide docs
EE-GA-0114-0007
Johnson, Walter E. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
EE-GA-0114-0004
Kavanaugh, Brett M. (D.C. Circuit, SCOTUS) show/hide docs
EE-GA-0114-0007
Newsom, Kevin Christopher (Eleventh Circuit) show/hide docs
EE-GA-0114-0006
Tjoflat, Gerald Bard (M.D. Fla., Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit) show/hide docs
EE-GA-0114-0006
Wilson, Charles R. (M.D. Fla., Eleventh Circuit) show/hide docs
EE-GA-0114-0006
Plaintiff's Lawyers Green, Timothy Brian (Georgia) show/hide docs
EE-GA-0114-9000
Mew, Thomas Joseph IV (Georgia) show/hide docs
EE-GA-0114-0002 | EE-GA-0114-0008 | EE-GA-0114-0009 | EE-GA-0114-0011 | EE-GA-0114-9000
Sutherland, Brian J (Georgia) show/hide docs
EE-GA-0114-0003 | EE-GA-0114-0008 | EE-GA-0114-0009 | EE-GA-0114-0011 | EE-GA-0114-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Buechner, William H. Jr (Georgia) show/hide docs
EE-GA-0114-0009 | EE-GA-0114-0010 | EE-GA-0114-9000
Hancock, Jack Reynolds (Georgia) show/hide docs
EE-GA-0114-0009 | EE-GA-0114-0010 | EE-GA-0114-9000
Heller, Martin B (Georgia) show/hide docs
EE-GA-0114-9000

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