On Oct. 8, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on three cases involving alleged workplace discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees. Ahead of the hearing, over 200 well-known American companies have sent an amicus brief to the court, urging the justices to support federal civil rights protections for LGBTQ employees in California and across the U.S.
The brief argues that the country’s current system of patchwork laws and individual company anti-discrimination policies is not enough to fully protect LGBTQ workers, particularly those who want the freedom to move across state lines for employment. As a result, itcontends that uniform federal LGBTQ protections are needed. Some of the companies that joined the brief include Apple, American Airlines, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Nike, Starbucks, Viacom and Walt Disney. The San Francisco Giants and the Tampa Bay Rays also endorsed the brief.
While the Supreme Court has made some rulings supporting LGBTQ rights over the last few years, including the landmark 2015 ruling in favor of marriage equality, the court has taken a more conservative lean with the recent appointments of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Under the Obama administration, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission took the position that discrimination protections outlined in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extended to LGBTQ workers. Three federal appeals courts have upheld that reading of federal law. However, one federal appeals court has come to the opposite conclusion. It is now up to the high court to make a definite decision.
Workers facing discrimination or sexual harassment could contact an employment attorney for guidance. The attorney could evaluate the case and file a complaint with the appropriate state or federal agency if warranted.