Supreme Court Extends Worker Protections To LGBTQ Community

( The LGBT community received surprisingly great news Monday, when the Supreme Court ruled that gay and transgender workers are due the same protections as others under a 1960s federal civil rights law.

Along with the four liberal justices, Chief Justice John Roberts and Donald Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch voted in favor of the protections by an overall 6-3 decision. In the majority opinion, Gorsuch wrote:

“We agree that homosexuality and transgender status are distinct concepts from sex. But, as we’ve seen, discrimination based on homosexuality or transgender status necessarily entails discrimination based on sex.”

In question for Monday’s cases was whether Title VII covered lesbian, gay and transgender workers. Title VII is a part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that outlaws employment discrimination based on religion, race and other characteristics.

While it doesn’t specifically mention gay or transgender people in the list of protected groups, it does say companies cannot discriminated “based on sex.” The issue at hand was whether that ban also covers gender identity and sexual orientation.

Currently, 25 states have laws that allow companies to discriminate based on someone’s gender identity and sexual orientation.

There were two cases that were before the Supreme Court Monday. The first involved two gay men who said they were fired from their jobs because of their sexual orientation. The second involved a trans woman who was a funeral director who asked to present as a woman while in the workplace. The funeral home refused that request and fired the woman.

That violated Title VII, the plaintiffs said. As Pamela Karlan, a Stanford Law School professor who represented the plaintiffs in the case, said:

“When an employer fires a male employee for dating men but does not fire female employees who date men, he violates Title VII. The employer has … discriminated against the man because he treats that man worse than women who want to do the same thing.”

Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Samuel Alito both penned a dissent to the Supreme Court’s decision, and they both accused the court of “legislating from the bench.” As Alito wrote:

“There is only one word for what the Court has done today: legislation.”

Alito accused the other justices of taking the Equality Act, which hasn’t been passed yet, and provisions in it regarding discrimination and sexual orientation and “issued it under the guise of statutory interpretation.”

He continued:

“A more brazen abuse of our authority to interpret statutes is hard to recall.” He says the majority opinion “sails under a textualist flag, but what it actually represents is a theory of statutory interpretation that Justice Scalia excoriated — the theory that courts should ‘update’ old statutes so that they better reflect the current values of society.”

The direct outcome of Monday’s decision means the 29 states that don’t have laws that protect all employees from job discrimination — including LGBTQ workers — must now enact those protections. Indirectly, the decision could have further-reaching consequences for protections down the line.