Supreme Court rules workers can’t be fired for being gay or transgender

Activists rally in support of LGBTQ rights at New York City Hall on October 8, 2019 in New York City. On Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court will hear three cases on whether it is legal to fire workers because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Drew Angerer | Getty Images

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that workers cannot be fired for being gay or transgender in a major win for members of the LGBT community. 

The holding is a blockbuster development in the history of gay rights in the United States.  

While workers in about half the country were protected by local laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, there was no federal law that explicitly barred LGBT workers from being fired on that basis. 

The cases were brought by three workers who said they were fired from their jobs because they were gay or transgender. They argued that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which says that employers may not discriminate based on “sex,” also applies to sexual orientation and gender identity. 

The workers who brought the cases are Gerald Bostock, a gay man who was fired from his job as a child welfare services coordinator in 2013 after joining a recreational gay softball league; Donald Zarda, who was fired from his job as a skydiving instructor after revealing his sexual orientation to a female client; and Aimee Stephens,a transgender funeral director who was fired after announcing her intention to present as a woman.

Only Bostock lived to see the cases decided. Zarda passed away before the case was argued and his challenge was pursued by his family. Stephens passed away last month at her home in Detroit, from kidney failure, according to her attorneys. 

The cases are Gerald Lynn Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia; Altitude Express v. Melissa Zarda; and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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