Week of 15 June 2020
The U.S. Supreme Court finds that an employer who fires an individual for being gay or transgender engages in unlawful discrimination which violates the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia)
Gerald Bostock had been an official in Clayton County’s juvenile court (in Atlanta, Georgia) since 2003. In 2013, he joined a gay softball league and was later fired for “conduct unbecoming a county employee.” This case was consolidated with Donald Zarda’s case, who was fired from Altitude Express after he mentioned he was gay, and Aimee Stephens’ case, who was fired from R. G. & G. R. Harris Funeral Homes after Aimee, hired as a man, informed her employer she planned to “live and work full-time as a woman.”
On 15 June, the U.S. Supreme Court found, in its landmark case Bostock v. Clayton County, that it was illegal for employers to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it “unlawful . . . for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual . . . because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” Up until this decision, it was still legal in over half U.S. states to fire workers for being gay, bisexual or transgender. This decision comes five years after the U.S. Supreme Court established the right to same-sex marriage (in Obergefell v. Hodges)
Of particular note, this ruling was penned by Justice Gorsuch, Mr. Trump’s first appointment to the court (joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan).
206 companies representing over 7 million employees had filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting federal anti-discrimination protections for LGBT workers. These companies noted that their “commitment to equality is violated when any
employee is treated unequally because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. When workplaces are free from discrimination against LGBT employees, everyone can do their best work, with substantial benefits for both employers and employees.”