In a major decision, the US Supreme court ruled today 6-3 that LGBT employees are covered by the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act that bars employment discrimination.
The case concerned whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employment discrimination based on race, religion, national origin and sex, also covered LGBTQ+ workers.
“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 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,” justice Neil Gorsuch wrote.
The three cases the court heard, Altitude Express Inc v Zarda, Bostock vClayton county, and RG & GR Harris Funeral Homes v EEOC concerned whether or not a federal ban on sex discrimination forbids employment discrimination against LGBTQ+ workers.
The Harris Funeral Homes case centered on Aimee Stephens, a trans woman fired after her boss claimed it would violate “God’s commands” if he allowed her “to deny [her] sex while acting as a representative of [the] organization.”.
Stephens’ case was the first trans rights case to come before the supreme court and came at a time when attacks on trans people have spiked and the federal government and conservative states have moved to erode the rights of trans people.
Donald Zarda and Gerald Bostock, both gay men, alleged they were fired from their jobs because of their sexual orientation.
Before the ruling job discrimination against gay and transgender workers was still legal in much of the nation. Some 29 states currently allow some form of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodation.
This is big and very much good news in these troubled times, especially the fact that two very conservative justices like Neil Gorsuch and chief justice John Roberts were part of the majority.
You can read the opinion here.