Supreme Court Rules for Gay and Transgender Rights in the Workplace


The Supreme Court ruled that bedrock federal civil-rights law prohibits employers from discriminating against workers on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity, a decision that for the first time extends federal workplace protections to LGBT employees nationwide. 

The high court, in a 6-3 decision, said the broad language of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlaws workplace discrimination on the basis of sex, should be read to cover sexual orientation as well. Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the opinion, which was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts in addition to the four more-liberal members of the court. “An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law,” the opinion said. 

The case extends more than a decade of advances for gay-rights advocates at the Supreme Court, even as the court has grown more conservative with the 2018 retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, author of the court’s previous LGBT rights decisions, including the 2015 decision that legalized same-sex marriage.

For all its cultural and political controversy, Monday’s case was simple, Justice Gorsuch found. He focused on the text of the statute Congress passed in 1964, forbidding workplace discrimination against an individual “because of…sex.”

There was no getting around it, he said: “An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it wouldn’t have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”

Via The Wall Street Journal

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