Supreme Court to Consider Whether Sex Discrimination Law Protects LGBTQ Workers

The Supreme Court said Monday that it will rule on whether Title VII, a federal law banning sex-based employment discrimination, also prohibits discrimination against gay and transgender employees, according to The New York Times. The court will hear three cases: Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In Zarda, a sky-diving instructor claimed he was fired because he was gay; a child welfare services coordinator claimed the same in Bostock. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit sided with Zarda, writing that “sexual orientation discrimination is motivated, at least in part, by sex and is thus a subset of sex discrimination.” But the 11th circuit court in Atlanta came to the opposite conclusion in Bostock, deciding that “discharge for homosexuality is not prohibited by Title VII.”

In the EOC case, Aimee Stephens claimed she was fired from a Michigan funeral home after disclosing that she was a transgender woman. Lower courts ruled in her favor, noting that “It is analytically impossible to fire an employee based on that employee’s status as a transgender person without being motivated, at least in part, by the employee’s sex,” the court said, adding that “Discrimination ‘because of sex’ inherently includes discrimination against employees because of a change in their sex.”