Title VII of the Civil Rights Act makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees and job applicants based on their sex. The way the law is written has left many people wondering whether or not it protects LGBTQ workers from discrimination. This question has divided many federal courts over the last several years, and now it is up to the Supreme Court to rule on the matter.
A Look At the Sexual Orientation Discrimination Cases
The Supreme Court has agreed to look at three cases, two which involve sexual orientation discrimination and one that deals solely with gender identity discrimination.
The first case, Zarda v. Altitude Express, was brought before the 2ndU.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year. The court ruled that Donald Zarda, a skydiving instructor, was illegally terminated by Altitude Express because of his homosexuality. In this case, the 2ndCircuit Court of Appeals said that sexual orientation discrimination was covered by Title VII because it was a subset of sex discrimination.
The 6thU.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled in favor of protecting LGBTQ workers in R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The court ruled that Aimee Stephens was illegally fired after telling her employer that she was a transgender female. According to the court, the termination was illegal because Title VII protects transgender employees from workplace discrimination.
The 11thU.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard the third case, Bostock v. Clayton County, last year. The court ruled against Gerald Bostock, a man who claims he was fired by Clayton County because of his sexual orientation. The case was dismissed after the court ruled that Title VII does not cover discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The Supreme Court’s Decision
Based on these three cases, it’s clear that the lower courts do not agree on whether or not Title VII protects LGBTQ individuals from discrimination in the workplace. Now, the Supreme Court will get to settle this debate once and for all.
The court announced that it will hear these cases during its next term, which begins in October. There’s no way to know how the court will rule, but either way, the decision will have a major impact on workers across the country.
Are you being discriminated against at work? If so, contact Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. at once. Let our experienced attorneys seek justice against your employer for violating your workplace rights. Call us now at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.