Best Ohio LGBT Discrimination Attorney Answer: How will the U.S. Supreme Court Rule on the new LGBT case? Is it illegal to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer employees? Could LGBT employees be at risk for discrimination? Is it wrongful termination to fire someone in Ohio because of sexual orientation? Could LGBT protections in the workplace end? LGBT Workplace Rights:
You may have heard on the news that the United States Supreme Court will decide whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LBGT employees. Our employment discrimination lawyers have been buzzing around the office with predictions and discussing the implications this ruling will have for our clients.
As always, it’s hard to predict exactly what SCOTUS will do. If it rules that Title VI includes LGBT or LGBTQ+ employees under its protection, then we fight our asses off to protect these workers from employment discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination. If SCOTUS rules that LGBT and/or transgender employees are not covered under Title VII, things get a bit more difficult. It is important to recognize that the Supreme Court’s ruling will have the biggest impact on folks who live in areas where state and local governments have not enacted laws to protect LGBT employees from unlawful discrimination. (See What Are Cuyahoga’s New LGBTQ Discrimination Laws? I Was Fired Today Because Of My Sexual Orientation!; Can I Be Fired Because I’m Gay Or Lesbian?; Can My Church Refuse To Hire Gay Cooks?; Can My Employer Openly Harass Me Because I’m Gay?).
This case is the result of three different cases from the lower courts being consolidated into one case. The cases are from different jurisdictions from around the country that are essentially at odds with one another. SCOTUS picked up the case to settle once and for all who is protected under Title VII and give Americans a clear rule of law. First, let’s take a look at the cases to see how this issue came before SCOTUS.
The first case is about a man named Donald Zarda, worked as a skydiving instructor in New York. Zarda told a customer that he was gay to make her more comfortable being strapped together. Afterwards, the woman’s boyfriend complained to the company that she had felt uncomfortable during the skydive knowing she was with a gay man. When his boss fired him, he said that he was terminated for “inappropriate behavior in the workplace.” Yeah. Right.
The trial court threw out Zarda’s Title VII claim. That court held that Title VII does not allow claims alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation. BUT the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s holding, concluding that Title VII does apply to discrimination based on sexual orientation because such discrimination “is a subset of sex discrimination.” That’s one point for protection of LGBT folks.
The second case is from Georgia. Gerald Bostock worked as a child-welfare-services coordinator in Clayton County, Georgia. Bostock joined the Hotlanta Softball League. HSL is a softball league for the LGBT community in Atlanta. It’s boasts that it’s a “safe space” for queer players to enjoy themselves and be competitive. Coworkers at the child-welfare-services center found out that Bostock participated in the HSL and started making fun of him at work. He was openly criticized by supervisors and coworkers for being gay. Bostock argued that after the county figured out he was gay, the county falsely accused him of mismanaging public money so that it could fire him. Bostock took Clayton county to federal court, to sue them for violating Title VII. Bostock contends that he never mismanaged money and that the county was using that excuse as pretext to fire him for being gay. However, the case was dismissed, the court held that Title VII does not apply to discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals judges upheld the ruling. This holding from the eleventh circuit is directly at odds with the holding from Zarda case in the Second Circuit. This is one of the issues SCOTUS will address when they hear these cases.
The third case that SCOTUS put on its schedule is from Michigan. This case is important for a slightly different reason because SCOTUS will decide whether Title VII’s protections apply to transgender employees. Aimee Stephens sued her former boss after she was fired from her job at a local funeral home. Her boss, Thomas Rost, describes himself as a devout Christian. Stephens had worked at the funeral home since 2007. When Stephens first started working for the funeral home she identified as a man. Six years later, Stephens told Rost that she identified as a woman and wanted to wear women’s clothes to work. Rost immediately fired Stephens. He said that Stephens would violate the funeral home’s dress code because men were required to wear suits and that Rost would be “violating God’s commands” if he allowed Stephens to wear women’s clothing to work. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Stephens holding that federal sex discrimination laws protect transgender people too.
Right now, the laws in Ohio protect transgendered workers from unlawful discrimination, but not necessarily gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers. But, this case puts that status at risk. Depending on how SCOTUS rules, there is potential for years of settled employment law precedent to be undermined. For example, the landmark case Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins. is an important case for employment lawyers because it was the first Supreme Court decision that clarified that employers can’t discriminate against employees based on stereotypes of how a man or woman should appear or behave. These cases gave lawyers room to argue for gay or lesbian clients who were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. Right now, as the case law stands, lawyers in many jurisdictions can argue that termination because of sexual orientation is illegal. Our employment lawyers argue that the employee was terminated because they do not fit into the stereotype of how the employer thinks a “typical male or female” should act. We make this argument as a form of gender discrimination. Our employment discrimination attorneys also argue that such discrimination crosses the line of gender association claims – a white employee cannot be fired for dating or being married to a black person and, likewise, an employee cannot be fired for dating or being married to a Jew, Muslim or Mormon. To that end, an employee should not be able to be fired based on the gender of who they marry or date.
However, the Supreme Court will rule directly on this issue in the fall which could preclude our employment attorneys from making this argument.
Again, it is incredibly difficult to predict exactly what SCOTUS will do. The last major LGBT case, Obergefell v. Hodges, was in 2015 and the Court looked a little different four years ago. Justice Kennedy, who was once the swing vote, has been replaced by Justice Brett Kavanaugh. As almost everyone is aware, Justice Kavanaugh was a Trump pick for the highest Court, and it’s true Kavanaugh does lean more conservatively. However, his judicial record on gay rights is unclear as of now. So, it’s difficult to surmise what will actually happen.
The Supreme Court heard oral argument on the case on October 8, 2019. At the oral arguments, Justice Gorsuch conceded that the text of Title VII was “close.”
Attorneys at The Spitz Law Firm are watching this SCOTUS case. Best case scenario, SCOTUS rules that sexual orientation and transgender status are protected under Title VII. Many of the lower district courts are at odds with each other. Who is protected depends greatly on what state a person lives in. SCOTUS is poised and ready to make a national determination. However, people who oppose Title VII protecting LGBT and transgender folds have a different mindset. Many people say that the Courts should not have the power to make law. They argue that the states are in the best position to make law and determine the wants and needs of their citizens. But here, as with Obergefell, there is great need for extended protections.
Until there is a ruling, most federal courts are staying LGBTQ cases until the Supreme Court makes a decision.
According to this study, conducted by the Williams Institute out of UCLA, it is estimated that there are more than nine million adults in the United States who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual or identify as LGBT. That’s roughly the population of New Jersey. Similarly, it’s estimated that there are nearly 700,00 transgender individuals living in the United States. Are these people less deserving of protection than others? The parallel that is often drawn is to that of interracial couples. It’s illegal to discriminate against someone because the employer does not approve of interracial marriage that an employee may be in. Humans cannot and should not be expected to control whom they love. Who a person loves is not necessarily in their control and they should not be penalized for it. Frankly, who anyone chooses to love has absolutely no bearing on how well an employee can or cannot perform their job. The LGBTQ+ communities need a win. Our attorneys at the Spitz Law Firm are rooting for you.
If you are searching “I need a lawyer because I have was wrongfully fired or terminated today;” or “I have been discriminated against because I am …” gay, a lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer; or even think that you might need an employment law lawyer that works with LGBTQ employees, then it would be best to call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation. Call our Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Toledo and Akron, Ohio attorneys now to get help or advice. Your employment rights are constantly changing and the best way to find out if you can sue your boss, manager, supervisor or employer for discrimination, harassment, or wrongful termination is to call The Spitz Law Firm and talk to its attorneys, who are experienced and dedicated to protecting the rights of employees just like you.
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