U.S. supreme court rules employers can not discriminate against LGBTQ+ workers

15 Juin, 2020, 18:21 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • U.S. Supreme Court in Washington

The US Supreme Court has ruled that employers who fire workers for being gay or transgender are breaking the country's civil rights laws.

'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.

The rulings were victories for Gerald Bostock, who was sacked from a county job in Georgia after he joined a gay softball team, and the relatives of Donald Zarda, a skydiving instructor who was sacked after he told a female client not to worry about being strapped tightly to him during a jump, because he was "100 percent gay". Some 29 states now allow some form of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodation. Bostock claimed he was sacked in 2013 because he is gay.

The Supreme Court cases involved two gay men and a transgender woman who sued for employment discrimination after they lost their jobs. "In Title VII, Congress adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employee's sex when deciding to fire that employee".

The rulings - in two gay rights cases from Georgia and NY and a transgender rights case from MI involving a funeral home employee - recognize new worker protections in federal law.

The cases were the first the court heard since the retirement of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

The federal appeals court in NY ruled in favor of a gay skydiving instructor who claimed he was sacked because of his sexual orientation. Gorsuch said it was surely not meant to protect gay and lesbian employees, but its words prohibited employers from making hiring or firing decisions based on sex, he said.

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The Harris Funeral Homes case centered on Aimee Stephens, a trans woman fired after her boss claimed it would violate "God's commands" if he allowed her "to deny [her] sex while acting as a representative of [the] organization.".

Under the Trump administration many conservative state legislatures have advanced bills that target the rights of transgender people in particular. Now her landmark case is before the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to make a decision sometime this year.

The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled for Zarda, and said its contrary past decisions on the issue were wrong. The court held that "sexual orientation discrimination is motivated, at least in part, by sex and is thus a subset of sex discrimination".

Stephens did not live to see the case decided.

U.S. Appeals Courts were split on whether the statute applied to sexual orientation.

The sexual orientation cases are Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga. and Altitude Express v. Zarda.

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