Finally, some good news! The US Supreme Court yesterday ruled 6-to-3 that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay and transgender Americans from workplace discrimination. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the ruling is the fact that it comes from a Court that is now overwhelmingly conservative. Despite that, one recent Trump appointee, Justice Gorsuch, in addition to Chief Justice Roberts, joined Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan in doing the right thing and protecting the rights of LGBTQ Americans.
“This is a simple and profound victory for LGBT civil rights,” said Suzanne B. Goldberg, a law professor at Columbia. “Many of us feared that the court was poised to gut sex discrimination protections and allow employers to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity, yet it declined the federal government’s invitation to take that damaging path.”
As a result of the ruling, employers may not discriminate against a person’s sex or transgender status. Employers who fire individuals for being gay or transgender will be violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and will be held accountable.
Only one of the three original plaintiffs in the case heard by the Supreme Court is still alive, Gerald Bostock, a Georgia State employee who was fired when his employer found he had joined a gay softball league. “Today, we can go to work without the fear of being fired for who we are and who we love,” Bostock said in a statement. “Yet, there is more work to be done. Discrimination has no place in this world, and I will not rest until we have equal rights for all.”
According to James Esseks, Director of the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, gaps in the federal law remain despite the Bostock ruling. Esseks suggests people get behind the Equality Act, introduced in March 2019, that would provide broad protections for LGBTQ Americans. New legal challenges and arguments are still going through lower courts right may yet upend the Title VII ban by claiming that “religious freedom” provides a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people. While we can all take a moment to be grateful that the Supreme Court made the correct decision in this landmark case, we’re not out of the woods yet. We must not rest until the laws of our country protect all Americans from discrimination all of the time.
Attorney Wendy York of York Law Firm specializes in whistleblowing, wrongful termination, and retaliation/discrimination cases. For further information, please call us at 1-916-643-2200