Washington D.C., Jun 15, 2020 / 08:00 am
The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that employers cannot fire workers because of their sexual orientation or self-determined gender identity, while dissenting justices opined the Court was legislating from the bench.
Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion for the Court in a 6-3 decision, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor.
Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Brett Kavanaugh all dissented from the majority opinion.
The decision considered a trio of discrimination cases before the Court, two of which involved employees who said they were fired because of their sexual orientation in Bostock v. Clayton County and Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda.
A third case, Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. EEOC, involved a man who lost his job at a Michigan funeral home after he had gender-transition surgery and returned to work dressed as a woman; the funeral home had sex-specific dress code policies for employees.
The question at issue was whether or not protections against sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act also applied to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
On Monday, the Court’s majority ruled that “An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in November had asked the Court not to extend Title VII protections to sexual orientation and gender identity, because to do so would “redefine a fundamental element of humanity.”