Business giants urge Supreme Court to take up LGBT discrimination

Doris Richards
October 12, 2017

The ruling "has wide-ranging, negative consequences for businesses, their employees and the US economy", the companies told the Supreme Court in a friend of the court brief.

The tech giants urged the highest court in the U.S. to clarify whether a law protecting against workplace discrimination covers sexual orientation.

The Supreme Court case, which gay rights advocates hope will settle the scope of workplace protections for LGBT employees, confronts whether sexual orientation should be considered sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In a friend of the court brief, major companies including Facebook, Google, Starbucks, CBS Corp. and Lyft urged the court to hear the case of Jameka Evans, who is challenging a lower court ruling that sexual orientation is not a form of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

In their brief filed Wednesday, the businesses said that they and their employees would benefit from a "uniform law" protecting gay and bisexual men and women.

A federal appeals court ruled in Evans' lawsuit that she was not protected by Title VII.

The Supreme Court will likely decide by the end of the year whether it will take Evans' case.

Even in States like NY that have laws barring sexual-orientation discrimination in the workplace, "Title VII plays a crucial complementary role by covering individuals not subject to the State's laws-for instance, federal employees or residents who work in another State-and by making available both the federal courts and a federal enforcer, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), to police invidious discrimination based on sexual orientation".

"The nation's top corporations recognize that discrimination is bad for business", said Greg Nevins, Employment Fairness Project Director for Lambda Legal. Evans' petition seeks a nationwide ruling that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates Title VII.

The coalition of companies in the Supreme Court case argued for clarity and uniform positions on this issue, particularly given the different stances from the government agencies.

Some companies and executives in August resigned from White House business councils and repudiated President Donald Trump's comments about a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The change comes from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who issued a new version of the Secretarial Policy Statement on Equal Employment Opportunity this week. She says she was discriminated against because of her sexual orientation and her nonconformity to gender norms of appearance and demeanor.

However, the 2017 version was very specifically edited to remove LGBT people.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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