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Bostock v. Clayton County: Meet the Plaintiffs

In Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme Court held that Title VII protects employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Meet the plaintiffs whose federal cases led to this landmark decision.


Gerald Bostock was hired in 2003 as a Child Welfare Services Coordinator for Clayton County, Georgia. The program received several accolades under his management, and he consistently received positive performance reviews. In 2013, Mr. Bostock joined a gay recreational softball league which he alleged resulted in open criticism of his participation, as well as his sexual orientation and identity. About three months after joining the team, Clayton County performed an audit of the program funds managed by Mr. Bostock and then fired him for "conduct unbecoming one of its employees." He then filed a complaint with the EEOC for unlawful discrimination under Title VII. 

Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty Images


District Court: Bostock v. Clayton County,  (N.D. Ga. July 21, 2017)

The District Court rejected Mr. Bostock's sexual orientation discrimination claim, holding that Title VII did not protect against such discrimination. His discrimination claim based on a failure to conform to gender stereotypes was dismissed for failure to meet the pleading standard. Additionally, they found that since the gender stereotype claim was not included in Mr. Bostock's EEOC charge, he had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. Clayton County's motion to dismiss was then granted.

Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals: Bostock v. Clayton Cty. Bd. of Comm'rs, (11th Cir. 2018)

The Court of Appeals doubled down on the District Court's ruling and affirmed the dismissal. The gender stereotyping claim was disregarded because its dismissal was not specifically appealed. The sexual orientation discrimination claim was dismissed based on precedent which the court did not have the power to overturn without an intervening Supreme Court decision or Eleventh Circuit en banc decision.

The Supreme Court then granted a Writ of Certiorari, and addressed these issues in Bostock v. Clayton County (2020). 


Supreme Court Ruling: Bostock v. Clayton County, (2020)

The Supreme Court granted a Writ of Certiorari to hear Mr. Bostock's case, in combination with two other cases regarding discrimination based on sexual orientation and transgender status and whether it is prohibited under Title VII. In a 6-3 decision, the Court found that:

[Title VII]’s message for our cases is...simple and momentous: An individual’s homosexuality or transgender status is not relevant to employment decisions. That’s because it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex. 140 S. Ct. 1731, 1741

Therefore, the Court found that Mr. Bostock was impermissibly terminated due to his sexual orientation and reversed the Eleventh Circuit's decision.


Mr. Bostock's case was then remanded and he eventually reached a settlement agreement with the Clayton County Board of Commissioners for $825,000. This personal victory is accompanied by the wide-reaching protection his case helped to establish for members of the LGBTQ+ community.