U.S. Supreme Court Hands Down Groundbreaking Decision Regarding Employment Discrimination Against LGBTQ Workers

NJ workers have the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), which provides protection against discriminatory termination, harassment, and unfair hiring or employment practices to in many diverse classifications, including but not limited to race, age, gender, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression.

Now on the Federal level, LGBTQ advocates and supporters of equal rights under the law are celebrating a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court extending the protections of Title VII of the Civils Rights Act to gay, lesbian and transgender workers. The court’s decision was divided 6-3, with Justice Neil Gorsuch writing the majority opinion. Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito Jr. and Clarence Thomas dissented.

The single decision addressed the question posed in three separate cases involving LGBTQ people who claimed that they had been fired as a result of their gender identity or sexual orientation. The first case involved a transgender woman who was fired from her job at a funeral home after informing her employer that she would begin dressing as a woman in preparation for her transition; the second and third cases involved men who were dismissed from their jobs after revealing themselves as homosexuals. In her representation of two of the plaintiffs Stanford Law professor Pamela Karlan told the court, “When an employer fires a male employee for dating men but does not fire female employees who date men, he violates Title VII. The employer has … discriminated against the man because he treats that man worse than women who want to do the same thing.”

Justice Gorsuch’s opinion says in part, “Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear. 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.” He continues, “Those who adopted the Civil Rights Act might not have anticipated their work would lead to this particular result. … But the limits of the drafters’ imagination supply no reason to ignore the law’s demands. When the express terms of a statute give us one answer and extratextual considerations suggest another, it’s no contest. Only the written word is the law, and all persons are entitled to its benefit.”

The repercussions of the decision are expected to be extensive. Not only does it eliminate questions about whether the Civil Rights Act extends protections for lower courts and state officials, but it is also likely to eliminate similar questions in areas of law outside of employment, including housing, healthcare and education.

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) has provided that protection since 2007, and Schorr & Associates, PC has been a leader in LGBTQ litigation for more than 25 years. We are pleased that our Federal Courts have finally made these protections the law of the land.

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