The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that workers cannot be fired for being gay or transgender in a major win for members of the LGBT community.
The 6-3 holding, authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch, is a blockbuster development in the history of gay rights in the United States.
While workers in about half the country were protected by local laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, there was no federal law that explicitly barred LGBT workers from being fired on that basis.
“This decision sends an unambiguous message that equal protection under the law applies to all and that an employee’s failure to adhere to an employer’s gender stereotype is not a licence to discriminate,” said Kristen Browde, co-chair of the National Trans Bar Association, said in a statement.
The court’s opinion, which was released only online as a precaution against Covid-19, did not immediately load in its entirety, possibly a result of high traffic to the Supreme Court’s website.
The cases were brought by three workers who said they were fired from their jobs because they were gay or transgender. They argued that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which says that employers may not discriminate based on “sex,” also applies to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Only Bostock lived to see the cases decided. Zarda passed away before the case was argued and his challenge was pursued by his family. Stephens passed away last month at her home in Detroit, from kidney failure, according to her attorneys.
The cases are Gerald Lynn Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia; Altitude Express v. Melissa Zarda; and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.