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US Supreme Court protects LGBT+ people from discrimination at work

This is a landmark ruling protecting civil rights of the LGBT+ community and protecting them from discrimination at workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity

Sabrangindia 16 Jun 2020

US courtImage Courtesy:ft.com

The Supreme Court of the United States of America, in a monumental judgment, declared that federal civil rights law protects gay, lesbian and transgender workers as well. This ruling has defied the Trump administration’s argument 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. Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion and sex. The Court had to decide if “sex” can be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity choices.

The judgment was given by a majority of 6 to 3 and was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, concurred by Chief Justice John Roberts and four other liberal judges. As per UCLA’s William Institute, the LGBT+ community is made up of approximately 1 million workers who identify as transgenders and 7.1 million who are lesbian, gay and bisexual. In the US, 22 states and the District of Columbia already have statues in place to protect workers basis their sexual orientation and from gender identity based discrimination.

CNN reported the contents of the judgment that read as follows:

"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…"

"There is simply no escaping the role intent plays here: Just as sex is necessarily a but-for cause when an employer discriminates against homosexual or transgender employees, an employer who discriminates on these grounds inescapably intends to rely on sex in its decision-making.” 

President Donald Trump responded to the judgment saying, “We live with the decision of the Supreme Court,” while also terming the decision to be ‘powerful’ and rather surprising for some.

The Obama administration on the other hand, supported LGBT+ workers in their discrimination claims under Title VII. When Barack Obama was the President, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had changed its longstanding interpretation of civil rights law to include discrimination against LGBT+ people but it had no specific protection for sexual orientation or gender identity.  

Dissenting opinion

The dissenting judgment written by Justice Samuel Alito read, "Even if discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity could be squeezed into some arcane understanding of sex discrimination, the context in which Title VII was enacted would tell us that this is not what the statute's terms were understood to mean at that time."

The petitions

The ruling came in separate cases, one of which was of a transgender woman Aimee Stephens, now deceased, who identified herself as a woman. She was terminated from her job as Director of a funeral home after she told her colleagues about the same and insisted on following the dress code meant for women. The other petitions were by Gerald Bostock, who claimed he was fired for being gay from his job as child welfare services coordinator despite of receiving good performance reviews for his job. Another petition was by deceased Donald Zarda who was allegedly fired from his job as sky diving instructor for being gay.

Bostock had lost both in District court as well as Court of Appeals and his fate was in the hands of the Supreme Court. Zarda, on the other hand got a favourable judgement at the Court of Appeals which had ruled that “Sexual orientation discrimination is motivated, at least in part, by sex and is thus a subset of sex discrimination”; and this ruling was in appeal at the Supreme Court. Stephens had also gotten a ruling in her favour at the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati which had ruled that discrimination against transgenders was forbidden by Title VII and said, “It is analytically impossible to fire an employee based on that employee’s status as a transgender person without being motivated, at least in part, by the employee’s sex. Discrimination ‘because of sex’ inherently includes discrimination against employees because of a change in their sex.”

Related:

Sweekar – Accepting LGBT children
Mumbai Pride: Thousands stand in solidarity against CAA, NPR-NRC
I never felt anything about my daughter was ‘different’: Chitra Palekar

US Supreme Court protects LGBT+ people from discrimination at work

This is a landmark ruling protecting civil rights of the LGBT+ community and protecting them from discrimination at workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity

US courtImage Courtesy:ft.com

The Supreme Court of the United States of America, in a monumental judgment, declared that federal civil rights law protects gay, lesbian and transgender workers as well. This ruling has defied the Trump administration’s argument 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. Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion and sex. The Court had to decide if “sex” can be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity choices.

The judgment was given by a majority of 6 to 3 and was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, concurred by Chief Justice John Roberts and four other liberal judges. As per UCLA’s William Institute, the LGBT+ community is made up of approximately 1 million workers who identify as transgenders and 7.1 million who are lesbian, gay and bisexual. In the US, 22 states and the District of Columbia already have statues in place to protect workers basis their sexual orientation and from gender identity based discrimination.

CNN reported the contents of the judgment that read as follows:

"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…"

"There is simply no escaping the role intent plays here: Just as sex is necessarily a but-for cause when an employer discriminates against homosexual or transgender employees, an employer who discriminates on these grounds inescapably intends to rely on sex in its decision-making.” 

President Donald Trump responded to the judgment saying, “We live with the decision of the Supreme Court,” while also terming the decision to be ‘powerful’ and rather surprising for some.

The Obama administration on the other hand, supported LGBT+ workers in their discrimination claims under Title VII. When Barack Obama was the President, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had changed its longstanding interpretation of civil rights law to include discrimination against LGBT+ people but it had no specific protection for sexual orientation or gender identity.  

Dissenting opinion

The dissenting judgment written by Justice Samuel Alito read, "Even if discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity could be squeezed into some arcane understanding of sex discrimination, the context in which Title VII was enacted would tell us that this is not what the statute's terms were understood to mean at that time."

The petitions

The ruling came in separate cases, one of which was of a transgender woman Aimee Stephens, now deceased, who identified herself as a woman. She was terminated from her job as Director of a funeral home after she told her colleagues about the same and insisted on following the dress code meant for women. The other petitions were by Gerald Bostock, who claimed he was fired for being gay from his job as child welfare services coordinator despite of receiving good performance reviews for his job. Another petition was by deceased Donald Zarda who was allegedly fired from his job as sky diving instructor for being gay.

Bostock had lost both in District court as well as Court of Appeals and his fate was in the hands of the Supreme Court. Zarda, on the other hand got a favourable judgement at the Court of Appeals which had ruled that “Sexual orientation discrimination is motivated, at least in part, by sex and is thus a subset of sex discrimination”; and this ruling was in appeal at the Supreme Court. Stephens had also gotten a ruling in her favour at the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati which had ruled that discrimination against transgenders was forbidden by Title VII and said, “It is analytically impossible to fire an employee based on that employee’s status as a transgender person without being motivated, at least in part, by the employee’s sex. Discrimination ‘because of sex’ inherently includes discrimination against employees because of a change in their sex.”

Related:

Sweekar – Accepting LGBT children
Mumbai Pride: Thousands stand in solidarity against CAA, NPR-NRC
I never felt anything about my daughter was ‘different’: Chitra Palekar

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