On June 15, the Supreme Court delivered a landmark decision on employment nondiscrimination that will provide critical protections for LGBTQ workers across the United States. The Court issued a 6-3 ruling in favor of the LGBTQ plaintiffs in Bostock, Zarda, and Harris Funeral Homes, three consolidated cases that challenged workplace discrimination against LGBTQ people. In no uncertain terms, the Court’s decision signifies a major victory for equal rights, as the court held that “[a]n employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.” The Court confirmed that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects workers from discrimination based on “sex,” prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ workers, reasoning that an employer cannot discriminate against an individual because of their sexual orientation or gender identity without also discriminating against them because of their sex. This decision extends to LGBTQ workers covered by Title VII nationwide, including those individuals who work in the 28 states that do not already provide explicit LGBTQ employment nondiscrimination protections in state law.
A Better Balance joins in celebration with the many advocates and organizations who were involved in making this victory a reality. As we celebrate, it’s also important to note that work remains to be done to achieve full LGBTQ equality. While the Supreme Court’s decision provides essential protections against employment discrimination for millions of LGBTQ workers, Title VII does not cover employers with fewer than 15 employees or independent contractors, and it only provides workplace protections. To achieve full equality for LGBTQ communities, we must work towards achieving LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections for all workers, and achieve full nondiscrimination protections in housing and public accommodations as well. In addition to fighting for comprehensive protections at the federal level, we must also continue our work to build on federal law with stronger nondiscrimination laws at the state and local level.
The Supreme Court’s decision comes one day after approximately 15,000 people rallied in Brooklyn and thousands more marched in Los Angeles and Chicago in support of Black transgender lives and to draw attention to high rates of violence, including at the hands of police, against Black transgender individuals. A Better Balance joins with the protesters who are demanding justice, mourning the recent deaths of Riah Milton, Dominique Fells, and Tony McDade, and making it clear that Black Trans Lives Matter. Such ongoing violence and murders underscore that, while the Supreme Court’s decision represents a step forward, we still have a long road ahead to justice and ensuring equality for all.