As LGBTQ Rights Cases Head to Supreme Court, Bicameral Democrats File Brief in Support of Civil Rights Protections for Employees
Jul 02 2019
Washington – Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) and 151 colleagues in an amicus brief supporting equal rights for LGBTQ employees, in three cases where high-performing employees were fired once their bosses discovered their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Supreme Court will hear three cases—Zarda v. Altitude Express Inc., Bostock v. Clayton County, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC & Aimee Stephens—about the interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as it relates to sex discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Court’s decisions in these cases will have a nationwide impact, deciding whether federal law allows employers to take action against LGBTQ employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Feinstein, Merkley and Cicilline were joined on the friend-of-the-court brief by 37 Senate and 113 House colleagues.
In Bostock v. Clayton County, a colleague disparaged Gerald Lynn Bostock’s sexual orientation in front of his supervisor, mocking Mr. Bostock’s participation in a gay softball league. A month later, Mr. Bostock—a well-regarded employee for 10 years—was fired. Similarly, in Altitude Express v. Zarda, Donald Zarda, an openly gay man, worked as a skydiving instructor at Altitude Express and was fired because of his sexual orientation. In the Stephens case, Aimee Stephens was fired when she told her employer that she would live openly as a transgender woman, despite her excellent performance record.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next term.
In the amicus brief, signers support the claims of discrimination, and urge the Supreme Court to clarify the law to reflect what is already widely recognized: that LGBTQ Americans are protected against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity under Title VII because sexual orientation and gender identity are inherently an aspect of a person’s “sex.”
In addition to Feinstein, Merkley and Cicilline, there were 113 House signers and 37 Senate signers, including Senators Schumer (D-N.Y.), Murray (D-Wash.), Baldwin (D-Wis.), Booker (D-N.J.), Bennet (D-Colo.), Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Brown (D-Ohio), Cantwell (D-Wash.), Cardin (D-Md.), Carper (D-Del.), Casey (D-Pa.), Coons (D-Del.), Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Duckworth (D-Ill.), Durbin (D-Ill.), Gillibrand (D-NY), Harris (D-Calif.), Hassan (D-N.H.), Heinrich (D-N.M.), Hirono (D-Hawaii), Kaine (D-Va.), Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Markey (D-Mass.), Menendez (D-N.J.), Peters (D-Mich.), Reed (D-R.I.), Rosen (D-Nev.), Sanders (I-Vt.), Schatz (D-Hawaii), Shaheen (D-N.H.), Sinema (D-Ariz.), Smith (D-Minn.), Udall (D-N.M.), Van Hollen (D-Md.), Warren (D-Mass.), Whitehouse (D-R.I-.), and Wyden (D-Ore.).
A full version of the brief is available HERE.