It was announced this week that the Supreme Court would take on three cases related to discrimination based on sexual orientation and identity.
The cases are:
Altitude Express v. Zarda,[i] a case from New York where an employee claims he was fired for being gay. The trial court dismissed the claim, but the 2d Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the claims made under Title VII
Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia,[ii] a case from Georgia where a man who worked as a child welfare coordinator for the county alleges that when his employer learned he was gay they fabricated an excuse to fire him, claiming he mismanaged public funds.
R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC,[iii] a case from Michigan which involved transgender employees. Aimee Stephens worked for the plaintiff for six years presenting as a man. When she informed her employer of her desire to transition and wear women’s clothes to work, she was fired for fear that she would violate the workplace dress code, and violate “God’s commands”. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals held for the employee and EEOC.
All three of these cases come under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[iv] Title VII prohibits discrimination by covered employers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. It also prohibits discrimination for a person’s association with anyone in those categories, such as a mixed race marriage.
I discussed this issue previously[v] when the Second and Seventh Circuits held that discrimination against a person for their sexual orientation is illegal. They ruled that sexual orientation is a subset of sexual discrimination and therefore illegal under Title VII.
These cases will be heard in the fall of 2019 and decisions would be expected in 2020, the heat of the presidential campaign season.
The author[s] is solely responsible for this blog submission. It does not represent the position of the New York State Bar Association or its Committee.