On Monday, June 15th 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the country’s landmark civil rights law needs to offer protection to gay and transgender employees who face workplace discrimination. This court ruling has been described as a sweeping victory for the LGBTQ movement, providing them employment protection after a long, tedious journey.
The ruling was passed by Justice Neil M. Gorsuch after a 6-3 vote. Let’s unpack what this ruling entails and the impact it would have on the LGBTQ community.
What Does the Ruling Mean?
Up until Monday, more than half the states in the United States could legally fire an employee simply for being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or identifying as an LGBTQ individual. Previously, there was no concrete rule preventing this outcome, and several LGBTQ folks were fired because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. Despite the lift on the same-sex marriage ban in 2015, which appeared to be a promising milestone for LGBTQ victory and acceptance, queer folk still faced discrimination at the workplace.
The Supreme Court’s ruling changes this. According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers are prohibited from discriminating against their employees on the basis of their color, race, religion, origin, sex, and gender. The anti-discrimination law included sexual orientation and gender identity as well, under the Obama administration. However, this protection was hindered and even withheld under the Trump administration. Since there wasn’t an explicit ruling on the matter, many workplaces enforced discriminatory practices.
After the new ruling, employers and organizations can no longer fire employees because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. The decision also directly speaks of legal protections offered to transgender folks, who’re already facing numerous political battles in the current climate. The trans community has been a victim of anti-trans violence, discrimination, and political debates, and the Supreme Court ruling makes it clear which side it’s on.
How Will This Benefit the LGBTQ Community?
In addition to having employee protection, the ruling also means that LGBTQ folks no longer have to hide their gender identity or sexuality at work. Look back at the case of Aimee Australia Stephens, who was fired after she came out as trans at her workplace, or of Gerald Bostock who lost his job after his employers learned of his sexual orientation.
The new ruling guarantees that instances like these will no longer be a norm in the United States. LGBTQ individuals will now have the freedom to stay true to their gender and sexual expression without having to live in fear of losing their source of income.
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