Gay Rights: Supreme Court To Decide Whether Firing People For Being Gay Is Legal

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Three cases recently taken up by the United States Supreme Court might end up having far-reaching consequences when it comes to the fate of LGBTQ people in the workplace and beyond.

The three cases taken up by the Supreme Court are all related to LGBTQ employment discrimination, and any decision made could set in stone whether firing someone based on their gender identity and sexual orientation is legal or not.

The three cases are Zarda, Bostock, and Harris Funeral Homes. The Zarda case involves late former skydiving instructor Donald Zarda, who claimed he was fired from his old company Altitude Express, Inc. because of his sexuality.

The second case involves Gerald Bostock, who says he was fired from his job as a child welfare services coordinator because his employer found out that he is gay.

Finally, the Harris Funeral Homes case involves Aimee Stephens, who was fired from her job at the funeral home after coming out as transgender.

The United States Supreme Court deciding these cases would set a dangerous precedent, as there is currently no federal law that outlaws LGBTQ discrimination. That said, lower courts have ruled that Title VII of the current Civil Rights Act that bans discrimination “on the basis of sex” includes sexual orientation and gender identity.

Activists are worried about this particular Supreme Court as two ultra-conservative judges, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, have been appointed by Donald Trump.

Should the Supreme Court rule against Zarda, Bostock, Stephens, and Title VII, LGBTQ people in states that do not have discrimination protections will have no federal protections against it.

Adam4Adam blog readers, how do you feel about this current legal development? Are you optimistic that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of Zarda, Bostock, Stephens, and Title VII? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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  1. Darryl

    Oh great, overturning protections for LGBT Q people would open the flood gates for overt and open discrimination for all people who are not white. What would be the reasoning behind such a ruling. Any of the Justices who claim to be on the write side of law, who strikes down protections for Gay People is telling the American People that we are a Nation of Discrimination. All the words spoken about Freedom and The American Way is bullshit. We are at the door of History again, will we walk through it to find out that we have moved forward, or are walking backwards in time?

    • Barry-NJ

      There’s a lot at stake here, but it is important to keep in mind that an adverse ruling will not overturn existing state and local laws against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. What is being decided is whether existing federal laws/regulations that protect against discrimination on the basis of sex can be interpreted as protecting sexual orientation/gender identity. That’s a big deal for people who live in areas without such protections, of course.

      We could have had explicit legal protections on a national level early in the Obama administration, but the legislation was opposed by activists in its proposed form because it didn’t cover transgenders. I felt at the time that the opposition was a mistake. Sometimes, we let the pursuit of the “perfect” solution get in the way actually enacting good, if incomplete, legislation.

  2. Marc

    Maybe I’m being optimistic, but I feel that the Supreme Courts will rule that this was discrimination. The sexuality of an individual has nothing to do with ones ability to do these jobs. In fact, I don’t see how ones sexuality has anything to do with doing a job of any kind. I know that people have preferences like what sex he or she may want for his or her doctor, but this isn’t what is being talked about. This is about individuals having to “hide” who they are to make sexually insecure people more comfortable. It is also about people fearing what is different from them. I hope the courts will see this as discrimination and not a company’s preference of who they can and can’t employ. I wonder would these people feel the same way if they were discriminated because they were divorced or a single parent. There are a lot of those out there and that has nothing to do with their ability to do ones job, but a few decades ago this group was discriminated as well. People learned and realize it has nothing to do with their opportunity to live a good quality life. Discrimination prevents that opportunity for many to live their best life. I hope a positive ruling will be another step in serving equality for all citizens.

    • Edward

      The thing is that discrimination isn’t illegal.

      Being ugly isn’t illegal at a federal level, and people don’t get hired because they are unattractive all the time.

      Should that be illegal as well? I mean… I don’t think so. Some jobs require interfacing with the public, and so personality / appearance / speech patterns / relateability all matter a great deal.

      If a server is fired because they talk in a “gay” voice, should that be legal? What if it makes customers unconformable (warranted or not?) Should it be legal to fire a server because they are really ugly, and people don’t like interacting with them?

      I mean… should restaurants not be allowed to selectively hire based on looks?

      This issue is far from simple.

      • Barry-NJ

        “If a server is fired because they talk in a “gay” voice, should that be legal? What if it makes customers unconformable (warranted or not?)”

        If a server talks in a “gay” voice, that would fall squarely under the parameters of this case because one of the questions is whether someone who is fired because he/she doesn’t conform to gender stereotypes is protected under the prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sex. If they can’t, then whether it makes customers uncomfortable is irrelevant. An employer can’t fire, say, a Muslim employee or a minority simply because customers are uncomfortable in their presence. That has already been established by court rulings.

      • Bart

        To Edward… initially people are hired for their experience, recommendations, the way they conduct themselves in an interview and yes appearance. If they have been hired and are doing their job well and then fired because their sexual orientation is different than their employer imagined, yes that should be illegal. Also, yes, if a less attractive individual was hired and is doing their job well it should be illegal to discriminate based on their looks. If the job required a well dressed, beautiful face, as some jobs require, …then why did they get passed the interview and hired in the first place. If they were hired and are good employees firing them at a later date based on the way they look is discrimination.

  3. Ed

    Well lets see, we have an openly gay male running for president. By virtue of this court ruling he should not be allow to run and will be deemed unfit for the office of the president of USA.

  4. Wayne

    Funny thing is many who are reading this will still go into the booth and vote for people who make laws against LGBTQ… there are a lot of racism within the gay community. Guess they are too dumb to realize society hates them too.

  5. Lamar

    Just like being African American, and/or any other person/s of color; women, has nothing to do with one’s abilities. It’s when you have made greater strides, than they perhaps intended or even, believed you could. Look at where we are/were with the military; debating, funny thing is, homo’s have always been in the militaries….

    Rigidities of the stupidities….insecurities, somehow in their heads, so very threatened.

    It’s really about keeping the “fringe groups,” just that, “fringe groups” on the end/s of things away from power along w/all the other undesirables. It’s about maintaining the “moral-majorities”, “power structure”, messing with your/our heads, keeping us afraid, pushing us backwards- into the closet, just the very threat of such.

    Look at Martha Stewart (insider trading) “Oh, I ‘ll never go to prison, I’m too wealthy”, really now, in a man’s world playing a man’s game? Well, we know who got the better of that equation, and it wasn’t her. Look who she’s hangin’ with now, Snoop-dog, she knows who her real friends are, she’s cooler than ever, actually.

    • Libertarian Queer

      Martha Stewart did not go to jail for insider trading. She went to jail on a charge of lying to federal agents. You and everybody else, including Martha Stewart, all have the right to remain silent. Martha Stewart and many others have failed to exercize that right and ended up in jail for it. Sometimes, the best thing to do or say is nothing.

  6. Preston J Kizer

    “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” “United We Stand” The Pledge Etc. How hypocritical can we be. Gays, immigrants, stranger people, people with conditions that had gifted skills Made this country and build the path way to opportunities because they believe in equality of all people. And treat others the respect Nd love that we all deserve .

  7. Matt

    I suspect that the people got fired and then threw the gay card. I wonder how the opportunists will feel should it backfire on them. Sometimes gay people get fired NOT because they are gay but because they are incompetent.

  8. Calvin W Berry

    I was fired for being Gay in Georgia, I even filed an appeal in the a pellet court In Atlanta. They wrote back saying there was no law to protect me. They also said they would not make a decision or look at the case for at least a year.

    I can’t believe we still have to fight for our God given and constitutional civil rights in America. Even for Americans.

    • Edward

      Georgia has at-will employment.

      You can be fired for being ugly, or fat.

      Should we have federal laws that protect the fatties and the uggos of the state?

      I would say that being attractive matters way more in getting / keeping a job than sexuality.

      End of the day you don’t have a right to a job in America. Neither God nor the State gives you that.

  9. Hunter0500

    “… might end up having far-reaching consequences when it comes to the fate of LGBTQ people in the workplace and beyond.”

    Of course it will have an impact. Whatever is decided WILL have an impact. Whatever the outcome, there will be consequences, good or bad depending on one’s view.

    The inflammatory tone introducing the discussion is a real problem. Insinuating that the presence of a couple of Conservative justices is a problem …is a problem. The Court should be made up of Judges who placed these by Congress to support understanding of our laws across decades…and positions. Not just Left vs. Right. This article is yet a other example of Political-based hate. The only Judges mentionned we’re two Conservatives … with no discussion about the past votes or the past votes any other Justices. “They’re Conservative so they’re gonna be bad.” Political- based hate forecasting the worst. Promoting hatred and division. Please stop.

    • Barry-NJ

      “The Court should be made up of Judges who placed these by Congress to support understanding of our laws across decades…and positions. ”

      And, yet, a Republican Senate refused to even hold hearings on Garland, a person that virtually everyone agreed was qualified by virtue of education and experience.

    • Robert Allen

      Huntero500…very good and almost overlooked point. Thank you for bringing it up. It was my first observation. Times are changing. The system that has been running is falling apart. Now humanity has to step up to the plate and learn to govern ourselves. We need to come together and stop buying into the roles of separation/racsism/division the systems program.
      We are going to need to rethink all the programing that has been forced upon us or humanity will not survive. Each person has a God given right to be human and creative. It is starting in Fiji…get on board. Learn to become what you were meant to be. Dank on you tube. Projectspeak on spread the word. Stop separating your selves and come together as humanity. The “system” is over think different and enlightened. Politics are just a shadow of what was. Rise above programing.
      Humanity is about/is to waking up and changing our world/ the very fabric of reality as we have known it to be.

  10. Libertarian Queer

    Really, Darryl? On what planet does race have anything to do with sexuality? Forget about the ruling. What is the reasoning behind your remark? Please, tell us.

    Moving right along, I see the Trump Derangement Syndrome has surfaced yet again in the form of “activists” being concerned about Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. Here’s a clue – some activists are historically prone to opening their mouth before engaging their brain. They have no idea how this is going to go down but because those two judges were appointed by Trump, the world is already ending. I notice no mention of Thomas, Kagan, Roberts, et. al….

    Zarda and Bostock are going to be consolidated and heard simultaneously as they both deal with homosexuality in the context of workplace discrimination and whether Title VII was intended to address the issue. Harris v. the EEOC will be heard separately from the others as that claim deals with transgenderism and whether Title VII deals with the issue of transgenderism in the workplace. Please, spare me the hysterics…..

    In my opinion, being the evil white libertarian queer that I am, I would side with the notion that Title VII does NOT address sexual orientation or transgenderism. I say this because if Congress had intended to address those issues they would have written it into the law more broadly to start with or the law would have been amended by Congress to reflect that sense in the intervening years since. It has been the traditional duty of courts to interpret the law, not legislate from the bench as has come into vogue in recent times.

    Perhaps they haven’t addressed the issue because there is an important balancing act to consider – the rights of a current or prospective employee versus the rights of an employer. Both are people. And as we’ve already established long ago, people have rights. This isn’t about “everybody hates us so we should have special rights”. These kinds of cases are more about where does one person’s rights end and the other person’s rights start.

    Zarda got run off from his skydiving instructor job because some number of females he was strapped to during tandem jumps accused him of inappropriate touching. In response, Zarda would proclaim his homosexuality to the “victim” in an effort to excuse his behavior. I’d imagine the boss got a little tired of dealing with it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Zarda later died in a skydiving accident. Here, read all about it if they allow links here:

    In Bostock, Bostock worked for the county as a CASA supervisor or administrator and as a court appointed child advocate. It has been alleged somebody didn’t like him and he got audited and subsequently run off for conduct unbecoming somebody in his position. Read about it here:

    In the Harris case Aimee Stephens, a future transgender funeral director, presented as a man when hired and when he/she/whatever signed the employment documents and accepted the employer’s code of conduct and dress. After six years on the job dressing as a man Stephens decides to go transgender. Informing the emloyer of this and that he/she/whatever was not going to abide by the established dress code, the employer found it unacceptable to have an employee violating the dress code. The employer offered Stephens the choice of dressing like a man or taking a severance package but he/she/whatever refused both. Stephens was let go. Read about it here:

    The devil is in the details, boys and girls. Nothing the SCOTUS deals with is ever simply black and white yet so many think everything is just that simple…

  11. Antwan Tee

    discrimination to the highest utmost. they’re be plagued with lawsuit after lawsuit if this ever happens with employers.

  12. LEO

    I’m optimistic that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of Zarda, Bostock, Stephens.

    Although the Supreme Court is currently leaning Conservatively,
    I believe the Justices will unanimously rule in favor 9-0. No person should be fired from their job due to their sexual orientation,

  13. Saul

    Without reading the brief I would imagine this was an at-will employment issue, rather than a civil rights one. While at-will employment can be and generally is odious, the solution toward that state of affairs is usually a strong union lobby, which many are unwilling to support. Unions are generally the only long term solution to the realities of discrimination, as politicians flow with the political winds. Employers prefer to be able to hire and fire no matter what the excuse, though we know it’s usually about keeping workers at the lowest level of recompense possible.

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