Over 200 businesses and companies in the United States filed a brief with the Supreme Court in support of LGBTI employees suing for workplace discrimination.
In April, the Supreme Court announced it would review three cases regarding LGBTI equality and discrimination at places of employment. Many hope this will settle the debate of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Title VII grants federal protections against discrimination for certain identities, but people disagree whether it applies to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Prior to lawyers’ arguments, interested parties can file an amicus brief as amici curiae, or ‘friends of the court’.
206 companies filed an amicus brief on Tuesday (2 July) on behalf of the LGBTI employees suing their employers.
These companies include the likes of Facebook, Disney, Apple, Coca-Cola, Amazon, Google, and more.
What they say about LGBTI employees
‘These businesses… share a common interest in equality because they know that ending discrimination in the workplace is good for business, employees, and the U.S. economy as a whole,’ the brief begins.
‘Amici support the principle that no one should be passed over for a job, paid less, fired, or subjected to harassment or any other form of discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Amici’s commitment to equality is violated when any employee is treated unequally because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. When workplaces are free from discrimination against LGBT employees, everyone can do their best work, with substantial benefits for both employers and employees.’
In all three cases under review, employers fired the employees allegedly for their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Lower courts have both ruled in favor of the employees, and also denied their appeals. This lack of consistency and agreement is a factor in the Supreme Court’s decision to take up the cases.
‘Sending a clear message’
Jay Brown, Senior Vice President for Programs, Research and Training for the HRC Foundation, said the brief sends a ‘clear message’.
‘With so much progress on the line, we are grateful that so many major American companies are standing up for the rights and dignity of their LGBTQ employees, family members and customers,’ Brown continued.
Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan added: ‘When employees can safely bring their whole selves to the workplace, they do better work and that leads to success.’
The Supreme Court currently has a conservative majority. Trump nominated two conservative justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, within his first term.
This, however, is not the only path for LGBTI federal protections.
Democrats recently re-introduced the Equality Act to Congress, which would mandate federal protections for LGBTI Americans across the nation.