Supreme Court outlaws discrimination against LGBTQ workers

By Sofia Pham

In a landmark decision Monday morning, the Supreme Court voted 6-3 to ban LGBTQ employment discrimination. 

The decision specifically addressed the cases of two gay men and one transgender woman who had sued their employers on the basis of discrimination after being fired. 

Bostock v. Clayton County involved the termination of George Bostock, a gay man, in 2013. Bostock received criticism for his sexual orientation and was fired in 2013 for “unbecoming conduct,” ending a 10-year period as a child welfare services coordinator for Clayton County. 

In Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda, former skydiving instructor Donald Zarda was fired after his employer learned he was gay. 

And R.G. and G.R. Express Funeral Homes v. EEOC was sparked by the termination of Aimee Stephens after she came out to her employer as transgender. 

Justice Neil Gorsuch penned the majority opinion, writing that “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.”

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits workplace discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, or national origin. Monday’s decision added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list, making significant progress in the fight for LGBT rights. 

Before the decision, 27 states had yet to introduce nondiscrimination protections for the LGBT community. In fact, only 21 states had fully implemented protections regarding gender identity or sexual orientation, and many failed to address gender identity altogether. 

The decision signals a turn in many states, a much-needed victory after the Trump administration recently decreased protections in healthcare for transgender people. And while the new protections are sparking celebrations among queer activists, many are concerned about whether employers will still be granted a religious exemption from Title VII. Looking ahead, the future seems unclear for the LGBTQ community.

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