Author Topic: A Critical Threat to Sex Discrimination Protections  (Read 491 times)

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Online Elderberry

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A Critical Threat to Sex Discrimination Protections
« on: September 20, 2019, 01:16:50 pm »
The New Republic By Melissa Gira Grant September 19, 2019

Three Supreme Court cases could redefine workplace rights for gay and trans people—and for everyone else.

Not long after the one-year anniversary of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation as a Supreme Court justice, he and his eight associates will devote one entire day to three cases which will determine the future of LGBTQ and women’s rights under the law. On October 8, the Court will hear oral arguments in three cases concerning protection from discrimination based on sex under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The justices’ decision could return American workplaces to the era of rotary phones, casual sexism, and closeted identity. Should these three workers lose, then all workers could be subject to the stereotypes harbored by their employers about how men and women should appear, behave, and identify. Getting fired for not conforming would again be completely legal.

“These are the single most important set of explicitly LGBT cases to ever reach the Supreme Court,” said Chase Strangio, a staff attorney at the ACLU, part of the team representing one of the plaintiffs who faced sex discrimination at work. “More than Lawrence, more than Obergefell, more than Masterpiece,” he added, citing prior cases concerning same-sex sex, same-sex marriage, and discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodations. That’s in part, said Strangio, because taken together, these cases encompass both sexual orientation and gender—they explicitly include all LGBTQ people.

Title VII is a powerful legal tool, especially in the majority of U.S. states without LGBT-inclusive anti-discrimination laws. While “you can still be fired for being LGBT in 26 states” has become a useful shorthand for advocates who want to convey how far LGBT rights have yet to come, it’s one that risks overlooking Title VII protections—even if those cases are difficult to win (which is especially true for trans people). This confusion about workers’ rights may be one reason why the Title VII cases haven’t ignited the same kind of attention as marriage equality did just a few years ago.