On Tuesday the Court will hear arguments in three landmark cases that could decide the future of the LGBTQ community's rights to work, and just how much discrimination can legally be used against them. This had been understood for decades as protecting women from being denied jobs or promotions that went to men instead.
Does a United States (US) employer have the right to sack a worker because they are gay or transgender?
The court's 5-4 conservative majority includes two justices appointed by President Donald Trump, whose administration has argued that Title VII does not cover sexual orientation or gender identity. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued on her behalf and, after losing in a district court, won a ruling in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. The Court's newest justice, Brett Kavanaugh, comes in at a close second. A ruling against the plaintiffs would mean gay and transgender people in those states would have few options to challenge workplace discrimination.
The Trump administration has effectively thrown in its lot with the employers, backing a narrow interpretation of a 1964 civil rights law banning discrimination "on the basis of sex". But the measure is stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate. The states that prohibit discrimination are not uniform - some protect only gender identity or transgender status, and some differentiate between public and private employment.
The justices in a brief order said they would consider that argument when they hear the case on December 2, leaving open the possibility they will toss the case later. Gerald Bostock claims he was sacked from his job as a social worker in Clayton County, Ga., after he became more open about being gay, including joining a gay softball league. He appealed in Bostock vs. Clayton County after his discrimination suit was tossed out.
In 2010, Donald Zarda was sacked from his job as a sky-diving instructor in NY after jokingly assuring a woman customer she had nothing to fear from being strapped to him in the air because he was gay. He died in a base-jumping accident in 2014, but his family have pursued the case.
The third case involves a Detroit funeral home's bid to reverse a lower court ruling that it violated Title VII by firing a transgender funeral director named Aimee Stephens after Stephens revealed plans to transition from male to female. The other case is R.G.