In a massive victory for LGBTQ communities and advocacy groups, the United States Supreme Court ruled on 15th June 2020 that existing federal civil rights law prohibits job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status.
The Supreme Court asserted that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars any discrimination on the basis of gender, race, colour, religion, and national origin, also encompasses transgender status and sexual orientation.
The 6-3 ruling was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch and joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and the court’s four liberal justices.
“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,” Gorsuch wrote.
“There is simply no escaping the role intent plays here: Just as sex is necessarily a but-for cause when an employer discriminates against homosexual or transgender employees, an employer who discriminates on these grounds inescapably intends to rely on sex in its decisionmaking,” the opinion read.
The LGBTQ community celebrated this landmark ruling, with advocates hailing this decision.
“The Supreme Court’s clarification that it’s unlawful to fire people because they’re LGBTQ is the result of decades of advocates fighting for our rights,” said James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Project. “The court has caught up to the majority of our country, which already knows that discriminating against LGBTQ people is both unfair and against the law.”
“Especially at a time when the Trump administration is rolling back the rights of transgender people and anti-transgender violence continues to plague our nation, this decision is a step towards affirming the dignity of transgender people and all LGBTQ people,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president of GLAAD, an American non-governmental media monitoring organization founded by LGBT people in the media.
While the Obama administration enforced the anti-discrimination law, which included gender identity and sexual orientation, the Trump administration sought to roll back some protections for the community in healthcare.