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SPLC Statement: U.S. Supreme Court Rules that Employers Cannot Fire Workers Because of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Today, in a 6-3 ruling written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the United States Supreme Court ruled that “[a]n employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.” The ruling was in Bostock v. Clayton Co., which consolidated three cases addressing whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace.  

Scott McCoy, Southern Poverty Law Center’s interim deputy legal director for the LGBTQ Rights & Special Litigation project, issued the following statement:

“During a time when our nation continues to face so many critical issues, including nationwide protests against systemic racism and the extrajudicial killings of Black people and a pandemic that is disproportionately affecting people of color, it is encouraging to see that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that companies may not discriminate against LGBTQ people in the workplace. 

“This is a historic ruling that affirms that LGBTQ people exist and are a valued part of our society and are protected from discrimination under federal law.

“But, even with this important decision, we know that our work is not finished. Throughout the Deep South, we are reminded every day that we need better federal, state and local non-discrimination laws in place to ensure that LGBTQ people are fully protected from discrimination.

“The Southern Poverty Law Center will continue to tirelessly work to attain equitable treatment for the LGBTQ and non-binary communities that we serve.”

The cases, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, Altitude Express v. Zarda and Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, examine whether or not employers can discriminate against LGBTQ workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The three individuals in these cases were fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Michigan and Buckley Beal, LLP.