Supreme Court gives federal job protections to LGBTQ+ workers

The Supreme Court, in a divided bench decision ruled that federal law dealing with sex discrimination protects LGBTQ+ workers from job discrimination, a landmark decision that gives the community a new set of civil rights.

The Supreme Court, in a divided bench decision ruled that federal law dealing with sex discrimination protects LGBTQ+ workers from job discrimination, a landmark decision that gives the community a new set of civil rights.

This comes two days after the Trump administration removed trans rights protections in healthcare, and defined sex as biologically assigned sex or gender.

The judgement

The judgement, written by Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s first nominee to the court, was also contributed to by Chief Justice John Roberts and the court’s four liberal justices. Associate Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh dissented. This put the majority to 6-3.

Among the notable points of the judgement is, “An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex”.

And further, “We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.”

Gorsuch wrote that “the 1964 Civil Rights Act might not have anticipated their work would lead to this particular result.” But he said the language of the law, which bars discrimination on the basis of “sex” but doesn’t explicitly mention gender identity or sexual orientation, was pretty much explicable.

He further wrote, “The limits of the drafters’ imagination supply no reason to ignore the law’s demands. Only the written word is the law, and all persons are entitled to its benefit.”

The impact of the Judgement

The judgement was the consequence of three cases, filed by two gay men and a transgender woman, from Georgia, New York and Michigan.

With more than half the U.S. states not covering sexual orientation and gender identity through their own anti-discrimination laws, and half the nation’s 8 million LGBT workers living in those states, the judgement could have a monumental impact.

It is also to be seen what happens in the context of interpretation of sex discrimination in Healthcare sector by Trump administration, since this judgement paves way for a diverse interpretation of what discrimination on the basis of sex can mean.

This can lead to a stiff challenge to Trump administration’s rule in court.


Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

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