On Monday, the Supreme Court announced that it will soon consider whether it’s illegal for employers to discriminate against gay or transgender workers.
As BuzzFeed News reports, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear three cases involving Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlaws discrimination against people on the basis of their race, religion, color, national origin, or sex. The cases in question — first heard in New York, Georgia and Michigan, respectively — all center on the question of whether sex includes sexual orientation or gender identity. The cases will be heard in the court’s next term, which begins in October.
The Michigan case focuses on gender identity, while the New York and Georgia cases reached differing conclusions about sexual orientation.
BuzzFeed News notes that in the New York case, a skydiving instructor alleged that he was fired for being gay. The Second Circuit ruled in favor of the employee and concluded “that sexual orientation is a function of sex and, by extension, sexual orientation discrimination is a subset of sex discrimination.” In the Georgia case, the 11th Circuit ruled against a child welfare services worker who claimed he was fired for being gay, concluding that the Civil Rights Act didn’t protect discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. And in the Michigan case, the 6th Circuit ruled in favor of a funeral home employee who said she was fired after announcing she was transgender.
LGBT rights are under constant attack by the Trump administration, which has pushed forth several anti-trans actions, including rescinding an Obama era memo allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice and instituting a ban on transgender people serving in the military. Thus, the Supreme Court cases are of vital importance at this time. As BuzzFeed News notes, if the justices rule in favor of the employees, it will be a major step forward in protecting civil rights and help fight against the White House’s anti-LGBT policies.