Battle Born Progress | Supreme Court hears arguments in cases challenging LGBTQI+ employment discrimination
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Supreme Court hears arguments in cases challenging LGBTQI+ employment discrimination

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 8, 2019

Contact: Will Pregman, wpregman@battlebornprogress.org, 702.752.0656

Supreme Court hears arguments in cases challenging LGBTQI+ employment discrimination 

LAS VEGAS, NV – Today, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral arguments in a trio of pivotal cases regarding employment discrimination against LGBTQI+ workers. At the heart of these cases is the question of whether Title VII’s protections against sex discrimination also encompass sexual orientation and gender identity, with the potential for grave consequences for LGBTQI+ civil rights should the defendants succeed in front of the Supreme Court’s conservative majority.  

Annette Magnus, Executive Director of Battle Born Progress, issued the following remarks:

“Since taking office, Trump and his administration have done everything they can to erase, marginalize, and codify the oppression of the LGBTQI+ community in America. From allowing discrimination in both healthcare and housing against LGBTQI+ people, to the wholesale banning of transgender service members from the armed forces, the message heard loud and clear is that Trump does not believe LGBTQI+ Americans have a right to exist or be equal. Now, the SCOTUS has a slate of cases before them which have the potential to allow people to be fired because of their identity or who they love, should the Court’s far-right contingency have it’s way.

With the Trump administration’s two extreme and illegitimate justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, holding the power to tip the balance in favor of upholding the right to discriminate, such an outcome would be a reversal of over 30 years of precedent on employee rights and will be the latest galling attack on the LGBTQI+ community caused under this administration. We strongly urge the Court to allow reason, fair-mindedness, and justice to prevail by affirming protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. All LGBTQI+ people deserve the right to live, work, and access services without fear of discrimination or harassment. They deserve equal rights under the law.”

About the cases heard today:

R.G. & G.R. HARRIS FUNERAL HOMES v. EEOC and AIMEE STEPHENS 

Aimee Stephens worked as a funeral director at R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes.  When she informed the funeral home’s owner that she is transgender and planned to come to work as the woman she is, the business owner fired her, saying it would be “unacceptable” for her to appear and behave as a woman. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in March 2018 that when the funeral home fired her for being transgender, it violated Title VII — the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in employment.  Aimee was the same capable employee before and after her transition, but she was fired because she took steps to be the woman she is. That’s sex discrimination.

ALTITUDE EXPRESS INC. v. ZARDA 

Donald Zarda, a skydiving instructor, was fired from his job for being gay. A federal trial court rejected his discrimination claim, saying that the Civil Rights Act does not protect him from losing his job for being a gay man. Tragically, in October 2014, Zarda died unexpectedly, but the case continues on behalf of his family. In February 2018, the full Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that discrimination based on sexual orientation is a form of discrimination based on sex that is prohibited under Title VII. The court recognized that when a lesbian, gay, or bisexual person is treated differently because of discomfort or disapproval that they are attracted to people of the same sex, that’s discrimination based on sex. 

BOSTOCK v. CLAYTON COUNTY 

Gerald Lynn Bostock was fired from his job as a county child welfare services coordinator when his employer learned he is gay. In May 2018, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reconsider an outdated 1979 decision wrongly excluding sexual orientation discrimination from coverage under Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination, and denied his appeal.  

A decision is expected by June 2020.

SPOKESPEOPLE ARE AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT IN ENGLISH AND SPANISH

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