The Stand

A huge Supreme Court win for equality

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AFL-CIO, Pride at Work hail decision protecting LGBTQ workers from discrimination

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 16, 2020) — In a 6-3 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate because of a person’s sex, among other factors, also covers sexual orientation and transgender status. It upheld rulings on Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity from lower courts that said sexual orientation discrimination was a form of sex discrimination.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued the following statement:

With today’s decision, the Supreme Court has affirmed the labor movement’s long held conviction, in our collective bargaining agreements and our activism, that no one should be fired because of who they are. This is a momentous step forward for equality in an otherwise dark time, as America suffers from a public health pandemic, an economic free fall and the poison of structural racism. The LGBTQ community is now freer under the protection of a law fought for and won by the Black civil rights movement a generation ago, another reminder that we are all in this together. Let’s use this moment not to rest, but to push forward so every single worker in America can live and work under the banner of liberty and justice for all.

Pride at Work Executive Director Jerame Davis released this statement:

We’ve said over and over that LGBTQ working people deserve the dignity and respect of being protected from discrimination at work and now the Supreme Court agrees. In this moment of national uncertainty, we all need some good news and this is a huge win for equality.

Today, the Court recognized that discrimination based on someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity is rooted in sex discrimination. The approximately 11.5 million LGB people and 1.5 million transgender people in the United States are now protected from discrimination in workplaces across the country. While many lower courts already have recognized that, we now have clarity from the highest court in the land.

Much appreciation and congratulations are due to the plaintiffs in these case, Aimee Stephens, Donald Zarda, and Gerald Bostock. It saddens me that Aimee Stephens can’t be with us to celebrate the win she fought for, but she helped make equality that much more real for millions of people. We owe all of you a great debt for standing up and demanding to be treated equally under the law.

Not every working person has the benefit of an inclusive union contract to protect them from discrimination on the job. Until today, half of LGBTQ people lived in a state that had no law to protect them from discrimination. Economic justice for marginalized communities is at the core of the labor movement’s work. Unions fight every day to ensure the dignity and respect of every working person and this decision helps advance that cause.

We are not done. LGBTQ discrimination has not been eradicated with this decision. We are in the midst of a global pandemic that has disproportionately impacted our community both economically and medically. LGBTQ folk, especially Black and brown people, face harassment and violence in their daily lives.

In particular, Black trans women are at risk as we’ve seen just these last few weeks with the murder of 2 Black trans women. A Black transgender man, Tony McDade was also the victim of a police shooting just days after George Floyd was murdered by police. Thousands of Immigrants, many of whom are LGBTQ, are still being held in cages at our borders. There’s still a lot we must accomplish to make real a truly just and equitable society.

22 years ago, I got started in LGBTQ activism because I had been fired for being gay. Like far too many LGBTQ working people, my life was uprooted and I thought I’d never work again. I recovered, but not everyone does. Some never work in their field of expertise again. Some have far worse outcomes. But after today, it will be a lot harder for LGBTQ people to lose their job for who they are.

Today we can celebrate, but tomorrow we get back to work ensuring America lives up to its ideals of liberty and justice for all.

Pride At Work is the largest national organization that builds power for LGBTQIA+ working people. We organize mutual support between the organized Labor Movement and the LGBTQ Community for social and economic justice. We seek full equality for LGBTQIA+ working people in our workplaces, our unions, and the public square. We organize in the spirit of the union movement’s historic motto, “An Injury to One is An Injury to All.” Learn more at www.prideatwork.org.

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