Business giants urge Supreme Court to take up LGBT discrimination

Joanna Estrada
October 12, 2017

Facebook, Google and Apple are among the 76 companies asking the Supreme Court to hear a case involving a woman who was sacked because she's a lesbian.

The amicus brief - a submission by parties not directly involved in a case - argues that allowing organizations to discriminate against gay and lesbian employees is harmful to staff, businesses and the USA economy.

A similar amicus brief was filed in a case that was heard en banc before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Zarda v. Altitude Express, where 50 companies pressed for sexual orientation protections in the workplace.

A federal appeals court in Atlanta in March dismissed Evans' case, saying her claims were foreclosed by prior decisions that said discrimination against gay employees is not a form of unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Seventy-six businesses on Tuesday filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Supreme Court in the case Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, which is being considered to take up question.

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.

The lack of nationwide recognition that Title VII bars such discrimination blocks the full protection of LGBTQ workers - particularly given divisions between the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (which takes the position that Title VII protects workers from sexual orientation) and the federal Department of Justice (which has taken the opposite position).

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.

In April, a different appeals court in Chicago became the first to rule in favor of a gay worker under Title VII. She says she was discriminated against because of her sexual orientation and her nonconformity to gender norms of appearance and demeanor. That was a reversal of the Justice Department's stance under the Obama administration. Evans' petition seeks a nationwide ruling that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates Title VII.

It is not guaranteed that the US Supreme Court will take on the case, but lower courts are divided on the issue. The amicus brief also argued that a patchwork of state and local regulations around the country puts some companies in a hard position. "That value is central to our business - but more importantly, it's the right thing to do". Businesses offering transgender inclusive healthcare coverage also jumped from 511 to 647 companies over the year.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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