The Supreme Court is set to rule on whether LGBT Americans are protected by federal anti-discrimination laws in the workplace. The conservative-leaning court will decide whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans sex discrimination, is broad enough to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Only certain states have specific laws prohibiting workplace discrimination again LGBT individuals. Transgender Americans — especially transgender folks of color — face high levels of unemployment and mistreatment at work. The Obama administration supported treating job discrimination against LGBT workers as sex discrimination. But in 2017, President Trump’s Justice Department reversed course, issuing a memo stating current laws don’t prohibit discrimination against transgender people. With Justice Anthony M. Kennedy retired and Trump appointees Brett M. Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch on the bench, there is reason for LGBT advocates to be concerned about the ruling.
However, we don’t need to wait for the Supreme Court ruling interpreting Title VII. We can to take action now to push for equal employment rights for LGBT Americans. On May 1, the House Judiciary Committee approved the Equality Act, which would ban all discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, in everything from employment and housing to education and public accommodations. As this bill heads to the full House and beyond, we should make our voices heard and demand an end to workplace inequality.