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ARKANSAS TRIAL LAWYERS
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Supreme Court Rules Gay and Transgender Workers Protected by Civil Rights Law

Published on Jun 16, 2020 at 1:24 pm in Employment Law.

Front of Supreme Court

The Supreme Court made a major decision on June 15, 2020. They ruled that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity was unconstitutional, based on the language in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This act prohibits sex discrimination.

The decision passed 6-3. Justice Neil M. Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion. The other members of the Supreme Court who supported this decision included Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen G. Breyer.

With this ruling, LGBT workers are now protected by employment laws that are in place to stop workplace discrimination. The justices ruled that discrimination based on sexual orientation or whether or not an individual identifies as transgender would fall under the protection of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prevented employment discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, and sex.

Those who dissented from this decision claimed that the common understanding of sex discrimination did not include orientation or gender identity. They also said that Congress could pass new laws to protect the LBGT community from workplace discrimination.

The court reviewed a few cases where this issue arose. Two gay men filed lawsuits claiming they were fired because of their sexual orientation. Gerald Bostock worked in a government program that offered assistance to abused and neglected children in Clayton County, Georgia. He was fired shortly after he joined a gay softball league.

Another case was brought forward by Donald Zarda, who was let go from his job as a skydiving instructor after he told a female customer that he was “100% gay” to quell her concerns about being strapped to him during a dive. Unfortunately, Mr. Zarda passed away in a skydiving accident in 2014. His estate continued his case. Federal courts in New York and Chicago ruled that discrimination against gay men and lesbians falls under sex discrimination.

A case involving rights for transgender individuals was brought forward by Aimee Stephens. She worked at a funeral home in Michigan. When she said she was a transgender woman and would start to work in women’s clothing, she was fired from the funeral home where she had worked for six years. Her colleagues were able to attest to her character. Ms. Stephens passed away on May 12.

The court ruled in favor of Ms. Stephens, stating that it’s impossible to fire a transgender employee for their gender status.

The rights offered by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are paramount to protecting the citizens of the United States from discrimination. McMath Woods P.A. is dedicated to protecting the workers of Arkansas and defending their constitutional rights.

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