The Supreme Court agreed to hear three cases later this year which could challenge a crucial legal principle that protects workers against discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Two of the cases include a transgender funeral home director and gay skydiving instructor who successfully challenged their firings, and the third of a social worker who unsuccessfully brought suit claiming he was terminated because of his sexual orientation.
The EEOC under the Obama administration, as well as some courts, have held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids discrimination on the basis of sex, includes protections against discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
The Trump administration appears to disagree, and now the Supreme Court will settle the question of how broadly to interpret Title VII.
In ruling in favor of the plaintiff in R.G. and G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit stated, “Discrimination ‘because of sex’ inherently includes discrimination against employees because of a change in their sex.”
The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals came to a similar conclusion in the Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda: “Sexual orientation discrimination is a subset of sex discrimination because sexual orientation is defined by one’s sex in relation to the sex of those to whom one is attracted.”
The social worker in Bostock v. Clayton County, however, was unable to prove that his firing was due to his sexual orientation.
The cases are scheduled to be heard in the term beginning in October.
Read more here.