June 15, 2020

Landmark Supreme Court ruling protects gay, lesbian and transgender workers

Author: Matt Smith
Source:  NYSUT Communications
supreme court

NYSUT’s never-ending commitment to protecting the workplace rights of all workers was affirmed Monday in a U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled federal civil rights law protects gay, lesbian and transgender workers.

The court’s decision — a defeat for the Trump administration — extends protections for millions of workers nationwide. The landmark ruling also upholds the long-held position by NYSUT, which filed an amicus brief in the case when it previously reached the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Workplace discrimination of any kind has no place in our communities," said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta. "Today’s decision is a major victory for the LGBTQ community and those who continue fighting to create a more equal, just society. We celebrate this decision with our LGBTQ sisters and brothers in the labor movement. But we’re also keeping our attention focused on dismantling discrimination of any kind against the LGBTQ community and all marginalized people, particularly in the wake of the elimination of federal health care protections for transgender patients.”

The case was the result of several suits brought by gay and transgender employees across the nation. The Trump administration argued the federal Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination based on sex, did not fully extend to claims of gender identity and sexual orientation.

But in a 6-3 ruling — written not only by the court’s four liberal justices but also conservative Justices John Roberts and Neil Gorsuch —the Trump administration’s argument was rejected emphatically.

“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 (of the Civil Rights Act) forbids,” Gorsuch wrote.

NYSUT’s national affiliates, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, both of which filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case, heralded the court’s ruling.

“This is incredible news,’ said AFT President Randi Weingarten on Twitter. “As a union we've fought so hard for these workplace protections.”

The NEA, in a statement also shared on the social media platform, said: “This is a great ruling for our LGBTQ educators and our students. Discrimination is harmful, inclusion is super-positive. This is true in schools and any other workplace.”