The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday will start its term off with LGBTQ rights, hearing cases on Tuesday regarding whether someone can be fired from their job for being gay or transgender. Anthony Kennedy, who served as the swing vote on many LGBTQ rights cases over the past few decades, is no longer on the court.
The Washington Post reports: “The issue for the court is the reach of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which, besides protecting against workplace discrimination because of race, also prohibits discrimination ‘because of sex.’ For 50 years, courts read that to mean only that women could not be treated worse than men, and vice versa, not that discrimination on the basis of sex included LGBTQ individuals. The Trump administration says that is what the Supreme Court should find as well.”
The justices will hear arguments in three cases, including R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The ACLU on that case: “Aimee Stephens had worked for nearly six years as a funeral director at R.G. and G.R. Harris Funeral Homes when she informed the funeral home’s owner that she is a transgender woman. Her employer fired her, and the EEOC sued on her behalf. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Aimee’s employer engaged in unlawful sex discrimination when it fired her because she’s transgender. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes is asking the Supreme Court to review the case. The ACLU represents Aimee Stephens.”
The other two cases involve sexual orientation: Altitude Express v. Zarda from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and Bostock v. Clayton County from the Eleventh Circuit.
Zarda and Bostock will be argued together.
SCOTUSblog reports: ‘ Zarda (who died in 2014, and who is represented in the Supreme Court by the executors of his estate) was a skydiving instructor who sometimes told female clients that he was gay to make them feel more comfortable when they were strapped to him for a jump. Gerald Bostock received good performance reviews while working as the child-welfare-services coordinator for Clayton County, Georgia, for over a decade. Both men were fired – according to them, because they were gay. Zarda and Bostock went to federal court in New York and Georgia, respectively, where they argued that firing them because they were gay violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination “because of sex.” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that Bostock’s case could not go forward, because Title VII does not apply to discrimination based on sexual orientation. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit reached the opposite conclusion: It reasoned that discrimination based on sexual orientation is a “subset of sex discrimination.”‘
SCOTUSblog adds: ‘In their briefs in the Supreme Court, Bostock and Zarda argue that the text of Title VII clearly applies to discrimination based on sexual orientation: Someone who is fired or otherwise the victim of discrimination because of his sexual orientation – in their cases, for being men who are attracted to men – is undoubtedly a victim of discrimination because of his sex. After all, they reason, a woman would not have been fired for being attracted to men. Moreover, Title VII also bars employers from discriminating against individuals who do not conform to conventional gender stereotypes such as the idea that women should be attracted to men and men should be attracted to women.’