SCOTUS to Hear Cases on Gay and Transgender Rights in Workplace

The U.S. Supreme Court, on Monday, announced it has agreed to take up a set of potentially game-changing cases involving LGBTQ rights and the rights of transgender people in the workplace, Politico reports.

The justices will consider whether existing federal law banning employment-related sex discrimination also prohibits discriminating against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The high Court said it will hear the two cases in which federal appeals courts split over whether LGBTQ employees are protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

SCOTUS also agreed to take up a case of a transgender funeral home worker fired because she is transgender.

Aimee Stephens worked at Harris Funeral Homes in Michigan for six years before coming out to her employer, who fired her explicitly because she is transgender. Stephens successfully challenged the firing at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and again at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, both of which ruled her dismissal was in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits sex discrimination in employment. These rulings align with more than two decades of federal case law finding Title VII prohibits discrimination against transgender people.

The Court’s decision to pick up this case could be of enormous consequence to 1.4 million transgender adults in the U.S., who are three times more likely to be unemployed and five times more likely to live in poverty than their counterparts in the general population.

“The Court’s decision to take this case is a historic turning point for transgender people across this country," said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. "Any decision by the Court on this matter could fundamentally alter the lives of people who already struggle to secure fair and equitable employment. Americans decided long ago that no person should have to fear losing their job because of who they are, and we hope the Supreme Court understands its responsibility to uphold established law and this enduring American value.”

The trio of cases could be argued as early as this fall. A breakdown of each case can be found here.