SCOTUS Decides LGBTQ+ Peoples’ Fate in the Workplace

October 14, 2019

The Supreme Court of the United States has reviewed the first transgender case in its history. As of October 8, 2019, the Supreme Court is hearing two cases that have to deal with Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, brought these cases forward. Title VII protects job discrimination based on sex. Currently LGBTQ+ people aren’t protected under this Title due to the fact that sexual orientation and gender identity isn’t specifically stated. 

Haven Todd (‘20) said, “I think that having this case is an important step to bringing equality to all people. It is kind of sad that this was not brought up earlier for people in the LGBTQ+ community who having been dealing with discrimination. It shows that America is at least approaching this issue in a serious, but also sensitive manner.” 

These cases deal with the firings of people in the LGBTQ+ community, Aimee Stephens, Donald Zarda, and Gerald Bostock. The outcomes of these decisions can impact the hiring of LGBT+ people across the United States. 

Aimme Stephens came out as a transgender woman to her superiors of the R.G. and G.R. Harris Funeral Homes through a letter. She writes, “The first step I must take is to live and work full-time as a woman,” and stated she would start wearing the women’s dress code. She was let go the week after, and given a severance package if she didn’t take legal action. She filed a complaint to American Civil Liberties Union.

Donald Zarda was a skydiver in Texas, originally from Switzerland. He was an instructor, who often told women he was strapped to that he was gay, to lessen the awkwardness. He was fired in 2010. Soon after, he filed a complaint against the company. In 2011, he joined a group of his friends at the BASE jumping, an extreme sport in which one jumps off a cliff with a parachute. According to his husband, William Allen Moore, however, “had he not been fired, the insane BASE-jumping in Europe never would have happened.” After his death, his husband and sister went on with the lawsuit, in his honor, and after their win in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, are contrasting the 11th Circuit. The case made its way to the Supreme Court eight years after his death.

Chloe Moussa (’20) said, “He never should have been fired. His firing was a violation as an American citizen, and had this event not had happened, his sister and husband would still have him in his life, and not have to be seeking justice through the Supreme Court.”

Gerald Bostock is a gay man who worked for the government as a social worker for ten years. He built a program to help the neglected and abused children of Clayton County, GA. After he joined a gay recreational softball league, he was let go for having “unbecoming behavior” of a county employee. 

The justices have been split between these cases regarding the definition of sex. In which one justice said that the original meaning in 1964 didn’t include sexual orientation and gender identity. Many supporters of these people have been outside the Supreme Court this past week to come together in solidarity for other members of the community.

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