Today the United States Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that employers cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Court ruled in the case BOSTOCK v. CLAYTON COUNTY, GEORGIA that under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, LGBTQ+ employees are protected from workplace discrimination.
While LGBTQ+ workers in California already have legal employment protection, today’s decision will have a major impact on LGBTQ+ workers across the country in states that currently do not protect them.
Porter Gilberg the Executive Director of the LGBTQ Center Long Beach released this statement about today’s Supreme Court Decision:
“Today’s decision from the Supreme Court ruling that employers cannot discriminate against LGBTQ people in the workplace is an important victory and an important moment for legal equality. This decision is historic and affirms that LGBTQ people must be protected from discrimination under federal law. Even with this victory, our work is not finished. With both the continued COVID-19 crisis and the worldwide demonstrations in support of Black lives we must continue to fight for full legal equality in healthcare and public accommodations, and continue to advance efforts to eliminate systemic racism. The legal rights of all LGBTQ people will not be secure until we dismantle the systems used to deny Black people and all people of color equity in our communities, in Long Beach, and in the United States.”
Conservative block justices Chief Justice Roberts and Trump appointee Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the traditionally Liberal block in the 6-3 vote. Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion for the Court:
“In Title VII, Congress adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employee’s sex when deciding to fire that employee. We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.”
In October 2019, the Court heard the arguments in three cases involving Title VII and firings involving LBGTQ+ employees.
In the Bostock case. Gerald Bostock worked for the Clayton County Juvenile Courts in Georgia. Bostock was fired in 2013 for “conduct unbecoming a county employee” when he joined a gay softball league.
In the second case, New York skydiver instructor Donald Zarda was fired in 2010 after he told a customer he was gay after she accused him of inappropriate touching her when they tandem skydived.
The third case involved Aimee Stephens who was fired from a Michigan Funeral Home after she told her employer about her gender dysphoria and she would be dressing as a woman at work.
Both Zarda and Stephens died before today’s ruling.
Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh were the three dissenting votes arguing that the majority was “legislating” by its interpretation of expanding Title VII to protect the LBGTQ + community.
Justice Gorsuch addressed that argument in his majority opinion:
“Those who adopted the Civil Rights Act might not have anticipated their work would lead to this particular result. Likely, they weren’t thinking about many of the Act’s consequences that have become apparent over the years, including its prohibition against discrimination on the basis of motherhood or its ban on the sexual harassment of male employees. But the limits of the drafters’ imagination supply no reason to ignore the law’s demands. When the express terms of a statute give us one answer and extratextual considerations suggest another, it’s no contest. Only the written word is the law, and all persons are entitled to its benefit.”
Today’s ruling comes during Pride Month, the traditional month for LGBTQ+ Pride Celebrations. The ruling comes one day after a large Black Lives Matter march with estimates of over 30.000 participants took the place of the annual L.A. Pride Parade in West Hollywood and Los Angeles.