(Photo Credits: Screengrab from @barackobama’s Official Facebook Account)
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled on Monday—June 15, 2020—that it is illegal for employers to fire workers simply for being gay or transgender because this violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Justice Neil Gorsuch—who was appointed by President Donald J. Trump—wrote the landmark 6-3 ruling issued by the Supreme Court. It reads:
“Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear. 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.”
Further, the decision said, “An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII.” It added, “It is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.”
Justice Gorsuch was joined by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts and liberal, Democratic-appointed Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Stephen Breyer.
Last year, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on three job discrimination cases—two on sexual orientation and one on gender identity—as to whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 include sexual orientation as a protected class and whether it applies to cases of LGBT discrimination or not.
The aforementioned cases are the Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda consolidated with Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia and the R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The Zarda case involved the late skydiving instructor Donald Zarda who was “fired because of his sexual orientation and also because he did not conform to male gender stereotypes.”
Gerald Bostock, on the other hand, was a child welfare services coordinator since 2003. He was fired in 2013 because his employer found out that he is gay after he began participating in a gay recreational softball league.
Lastly, the R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission case involved the late Aimee Stephens (she passed away last month at the age of 59). She had been the funeral director at R.G. and G.R. Harris Funeral Homes for almost six years but was promptly fired after coming out to her workplace as a transgender woman. Ms. Stephens was told by her boss that: “coming to work dressed as a woman was not going to be acceptable.”
It can be remembered that the Trump administration filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court last year saying that employment discrimination, including firing of workers based on sexual orientation, is legal under the federal civil rights law. A similar brief was filed on August 16, 2019 for gender identity saying that transgender workers are not protected by law.
Meanwhile, former US President Barack Obama took to social media to wish the LGBTQ community a “Happy Pride Month” after the win:
According to CNN, this landmark decision has far-reaching consequences and will “change how more than 7 million LGBTQ individuals will live and work in the United States.”
Take a look at what the netizens are saying on Twitter about the ruling below:
#LGBTQRights Until today, you could be fired for being #LGBTQ in 26 US states. No longer!— Dan Nomura (@DanNomura) June 15, 2020
"All young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential."–Harvey Milkhttps://t.co/1ZNNlFbfZ4