Supreme Court rules employers can’t fire over sexual orientation, protecting LGBTQ workers

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court of the United States has made a landmark ruling that says it is illegal to fire workers simply for being a member of the LGBTQ community.

The justices said LGBTQ workers are protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The court, which is leaning conservative, voted 6-3 to say that Title VII applies to protect against job discrimination because of sex, The Associated Press reported.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the court’s opinion, saying, “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.”

Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia decision by National Content Desk on Scribd

The case was Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia.

The case was summarized by Oyez.org, a website run by groups like Cornell Law School and the Legal Information Institute

Gerald Bostock, a gay man, was working as a child welfare services coordinator for Clayton County, Georgia. He had positive performance evaluations and awards. But after 10 years on the job, he started playing in a gay recreational softball league and was criticized for taking part in the league, for his sexual orientation and his identity. At one meeting remarks were made about his sexual orientation and about the league. Shortly after, an audit was performed on program funds for the system he managed. He was fired for “conduct unbecoming of its (Clayton County) employees.”

Bostock filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and eventually a lawsuit that said his employment termination went against Title VII.

His case was combined with a similar one, Altitude Express v Zarda, according to Oyez.

In that case, sky-diving instructor Donald Zarda, who is a gay man, would tell some women about his sexual orientation when being strapped to a man for a tandem skydive. One woman claimed he touched her inappropriately and said he disclosed his sexual orientation as an excuse. He was fired despite denying the claims of inappropriate touch and was dismissed because of his sexual orientation.

Zarda also said his firing went against Title VII.