The U.S. celebrates LGBT pride during the month of June, and this year there’s even a bigger cause for celebration. In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court decided on Jun. 15 that federal civil rights law protects gay, lesbian, and transgender workers.
The Trump administration had argued that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that bars discrimination based on sex did not extend to claims of gender identity and sexual orientation. However, the protections are not extended to millions of workers nationwide.
Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, religion, national origin, and sex. But now, LGBT people will be protected from being disciplined, fired, or turned down for a job solely based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Two of the court’s Republican appointees joined the court’s Democratic appointees to deliver the surprising 6-3 victory to those arguing for anti-discrimination protections.
The court said “sex” is a distinct characteristic but inseparable from the concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity.
According to Gallup, the percentage of American adults identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) was 4.5% in 2017.
Writing the SCOTUS opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was President Donald Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, noted: “An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions 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.”
The ruling, however, does not help when it comes to discrimination against LGBTQ people in public accommodations, where discrimination based on sex is not barred by federal law.
Nevertheless, this new ruling is set to be even more impactful than even the decision that found same-sex marriage as constitutional, given that it will be providing millions of LGBT Americans with new workplace rights, which could later barr sex discrimination in education, health care, housing, and financial credit.
The court’s decision specifically addresses the cases of two gay men and one transgender woman who were fired from their jobs and then sued their employers alleging discrimination.
The three plaintiffs were a former child welfare services coordinator from Georgia, a former New York skydiving instructor who died at 44 in 2014 but was represented by his sister and former partner, and a former funeral home worker from Michigan who is transgender, and who died earlier in 2020. The cases, heard in early October, were among the most significant on the court’s docket and had been pending the longest.
Before the decision, LGBT job discrimination was still technically legal in much of the nation in states that don’t have their own laws set to protect this minority.
Regarding the ruling, President Trump simply called it a “very powerful decision.”
WEST COAST EMPLOYMENT LAWYERS IS HERE TO HELP
If you or a loved one has been wrongfully discriminated against or terminated at work due to their gender identity or sexual orientation, immediately contact West Coast Employment Lawyers for a free, no-obligation consultation with a gender discrimination lawyer at our firm. You can reach our legal team 24/7 by calling 1-800-247-9235 or emailing email@example.com.