Video: Supreme Court rules 1964 civil rights law protects LGBTQ Workers
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed down its most consequential ruling for LGBTQ Americans in the last five years, declaring that the protections of Title VII of the 1964 civil rights law extend to sexual orientation in the workplace.
“What this case comes down to is a provision that Congress created called Title VII,” said federal judiciary expert Anthony Marcum of the R-Street Institute. “Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, sex, and other factors. The Supreme Court looked to the word ‘sex’ and determined that also applied to homosexual and transgender persons in the workplace.”
Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion joining Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan in the 6-3 decision.
In the majority opinion, Gorsuch wrote, “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.”
“It is now the law of the land in all 50 states that you cannot fire or refuse to hire someone for being gay or transgender. That is huge,” said Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D – Orlando). “But what it doesn’t have an immediate impact on is other categories where we know discrimination does exist, such as housing, public accommodations, health care and other areas.”
Before Monday’s ruling, Florida was one of 27 states that did not have statutory protections for LGBTQ employees in the workplace.
Smith noted that Florida lawmakers have been pushing for protections for years, adding that he is optimistic that, given Monday’s decision, lawmakers will be more inclined to extend LGBTQ protections to housing and other areas covered as part of civil rights.