In a major win for LGBT workers in California and throughout the nation, the Supreme Court issued a ruling stating that federal civil rights protections applied to these employees in the workplace. It is now illegal for an employer to fire or discriminate against an employee based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
While legal analysts were split on the possible outcome, the actual decision was a shock for Supreme Court observers. Many expected another 5-4 decision with Chief Justice Roberts providing the crucial vote. Instead, this decision was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, a stalwart of the Court’s conservative wing. While the case delivered a victory to liberal policy interests, it relied on conservative legal reading. The decision looked solely at the use of the word “sex” in the law to decide that it covered sexual orientation as well as gender. This is a textualist approach usually favored by conservative judges.
For the LGBT community, this case is another in a recent string of legal victories. Even the dissent acknowledged that it was a major policy victory for the LGBT community. However, according to Justice Brett Kavanaugh, expanding federal civil rights protections to LGBT workers is not something that should have been done by a court but should have been accomplished by Congress passing a law. For now, federal law has changed by virtue of six votes on the Supreme Court.
Now that LGBT employees are protected at work, they can file a lawsuit if they believe that they have faced discrimination or been fired based on their sexual orientation. For a victim, it may be wise to retain a workplace discrimination attorney to get legal advice about rights and possible remedies. The attorney could file a lawsuit against the employer for the disparate treatment that the plaintiff suffered at work.