Landmark Supreme Court Discrimination Decision - The Black Perspective
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Landmark Supreme Court Discrimination Decision

By on June 16, 2020

The restriction on sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects transgender and gay workers says the UNITED STATES Supreme Court in a landmark ruling on Monday, June 16.

Unexpected author for the majority…

For this historic discrimination ruling, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch wrote the opinion of the majority. The majority included Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender,” wrote Gorsuch. “The answer is clear. 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. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids

Those who adopted the Civil Rights Act might not have anticipated their work would lead to this particular result. Likely, they weren’t thinking about many of the act’s consequences that have become apparent over the years, including its prohibition against discrimination on the basis of motherhood or its ban on the sexual harassment of male employees. But the limits of the drafters’ imagination supply no reason to ignore the law’s demands.

 

Prior to the Supreme Court

The ruling was released based on a combination of cases heard by the Court, Bostock v. Clayton County, Altitude Express v. Zarda, and also R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Service Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In Bostock, child advocate Gerald Bostock was discharged after he began participating in a gay entertainment softball league, resulting in defaming remarks from prominent members of the local area.

In Altitude Express, skydiving instructor Donald Zarda was discharged days after he discussed that he was gay. Zarda was later on killed in a skydiving accident.

In R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes,  terminated Aimee Stephens. The did so after she informed her company that she intended to live and work full-time as a female. Stephens died in May at age 59 after suffering from kidney disease.

 

The estates of Zarda and also Stephens continued the instances.

Gorsuch noted the “ordinary public meaning” of Title VII at the time of its fostering leads to “a straightforward rule” that a company breaches Title VII when it intentionally fires a private based partially on sex.

Gorsuch also pointed out the 1989 High court choice Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, which held that Title’s VII’s ban on sex discrimination shields those that don’t comply with gender norms.

 

Practical discrimination examples from Justice Gorsuch

Justice Gorsuch gave some examples of exactly how Title VII and Supreme Court precedent apply in cases of transgender and gay employees.

First, say a male employee and also a woman are both attracted to guys. Only the male employee is terminated because of that attraction. In doing so, the employer intentionally singles out the male employee in part due to the employee’s sex, Gorsuch claimed.

A transgender staff member as well as a woman employee both identify as women. The company fires only the transgender staff member. In this case the company intentionally penalizes a person identified as male at birth for attributes or actions that it endures in a worker identified as female at birth, Gorsuch stated.

It isn’t a defense for the company to say it discharges all male and women workers that are homosexual or transgender, Gorsuch claimed.

Justice Gorsuch continues “So just as an employer who fires both Hannah and Bob for failing to fulfill traditional sex stereotypes doubles rather than eliminates Title VII liability, an employer who fires both Hannah and Bob for being gay or transgender does the same.”

 

Nation’s largest attorney group is on board.

American Bar Association head Judy Perry Martinez applauded the choice in a statement published Monday.

The American Bar Association celebrates today’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision vindicating the civil rights of transgender workers, and lesbians, gay men, and bisexual workers,” Martinez said. In its 6-3 decision, “the court affirmed the right to work in this country free of discrimination because of gender identity or sexuality, a right the ABA defended in an amicus brief it filed in the case.

 

The dissenters…

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented in a viewpoint joined by Justice Clarence Thomas.

“There is only one word for what the court has done today: legislation. The document that the court releases is in the form of a judicial opinion interpreting a statute, but that is deceptive,” Alito wrote.

 

Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh argued in a separate dissent. He said that there are excellent argued reasons to modify Title VII to protect discrimination on the basis of sexual preference, yet the question is for Congress to choose.

He wrote. “I have the greatest, and unyielding, respect for my colleagues and for their good faith.” Just Kavanaugh continued, “ But when this court usurps the role of Congress, as it does today, the public understandably becomes confused about who the policymakers really are in our system of separated powers and inevitably becomes cynical about the oft-repeated aspiration that judges base their decisions on law rather than on personal preference. The best way for judges to demonstrate that we are deciding cases based on the ordinary meaning of the law is to walk the walk, even in the hard cases when we might prefer a different policy outcome.

 

 

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