Supreme Court Considers Hearing On LGBTQ Workplace Discrimination

LGBTQ Workplace Discrimination Updated: 4/22/19 9:42 a.m.

On Monday, the Supreme Court said it would hear three cases regarding LGBTQ workplace discrimination and determining whether federal law protects LGBTQ individuals from experiencing discrimination at work.

In an unsigned order, the court said it would review all of the three cases regarding the matter, but required that two of the cases be combined into one argument.

The two merged cases inquired whether or not discrimination over sexual orientation falls under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Currently, the statue blocks discrimination in the workplace because of sex.

The court claimed it would examine if the same federal statute protects transgender people in the workplace, based on what gender they prefer to be identified as.

The cases offer the opportunity for the Supreme Court to expand on work discrimination protection towards people in the LGBTQ communities. So far, lower courts, have been divided on the issue.

In one of the cases, Gerald Lynn Bostock, who is an openly gay man, alleges that a Georgia county fired him because of his sexual orientation. Another example touches on Donald Zarda, who was a skydiving instructor but was fired after he revealed he was gay to a customer.

Zarda, who has since died, is now being represented in the case by the executors of his estate.

The two instances were both combined into one case, with the high court considering whether federal anti-discrimination law protects individuals from sex-based discrimination also applies to sexual orientation.

The third case touches on discrimination of a transgender woman after she revealed her identity to her employer at a funeral home which was run by a “devout Christian” – saying she planned to present as a woman at work ahead of sex reassignment surgery. The woman, Aimee Stephens, was then fired after.

Stephens legal team asked the court to consider whether federal anti-discrimination law also applies to gender identity.

However, on Monday the Supreme Court stated that it would only consider the case if federal law applies to transgender identity and if a prior ruling prevents employers from requiring that employees follow sex-specific policies based on their sex, rather than their gender identity.