Los Angeles and California elected officials Monday hailed a U.S. Supreme Court ruling affirming that employers cannot fire or take discriminatory actions against employees based on sexual orientation or gender preference.
“LGBTQ Americans deserve fair and equal treatment under the law,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “Today’s Supreme Court decision is a victory in the ongoing battle to protect LGBTQ workers from workplace discrimination. This is progress. This is a vital step forward. But the fight goes on.”
The 6-3 ruling affirmed that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes protections against discriminating against people for their gender and sexual orientation.
“Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the ruling. “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.”
The ruling came in a case dubbed Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, in which Gerald Bostock argued he was fired as a county employee “simply for being homosexual or transgender,” court documents show.
Bostock was allegedly fired for “unbecoming” behavior of a county employee shortly after he began participating in a gay recreational softball league, according to court documents.
Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said the decision was a “win” for the LGBTQ community that was decades in the making, starting with the civil rights movement and LGBT uprisings beginning in the 1950s and 1960s.
“Decisions that extend our civil rights are always welcome, especially in light of recent discriminatory actions taken by the Trump administration,” O’Farrell said on Twitter. “Sometimes the (Supreme Court) gets it right and granting protections to #LGBT employees and prohibiting employers from making hiring or firing decisions based on sex is a legal and moral victory for us all.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom also praised the ruling.
“Nobody should ever have to fear losing their job simply because of who they are or whom they love,” Newsom said. “Today’s Supreme Court decision rights this injustice and brings the country in line with what has long been California law, ensuring that LGBTQ persons across our nation enjoy core civil rights legal protection at work. While the fight for equality continues, this ruling is a significant victory for the LGBTQ community, civil rights and against discrimination.”
Justice Brett Kavanaugh filed the dissenting opinion, saying that under the Constitution’s separation of powers, the responsibility to amend the employment clause of the Civil Rights Act “belongs to Congress and the president in the legislative process, not to this Court.” Kavanaugh also said additional laws have been passed by Congress to protect people from workplace discrimination.
The Los Angeles LGBT Center issued a statement hailing the court’s decision.
“To those who argue the Civil Rights Act of 1964 could not have foreseen questions of sexual orientation and gender identity, it is now decided that the limits of the drafters’ imagination supply no reason to ignore the law’s demands,” according to the center. “Although today’s decision is a historic victory, it comes as we still fight for true equality and justice on many fronts.
“We know that one court decision alone is not enough: legal equality in certain areas does not mean that you are equal in today’s America.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling comes after the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday finalized a rule that would remove nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people regarding health care and health insurance.
“HHS respects the dignity of every human being, and as we have shown in our response to the pandemic, we vigorously protect and enforce the civil rights of all to the fullest extent permitted by our laws as passed by Congress,” said Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights in the HHS, in a written statement.
The rule is set to go into effect by mid-August.