Federal Law Now Protects LGBTQ Employees From Discrimination. But What’s Next?

Jun 18, 2020

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that a federal statute protects gay, lesbian and transgender employees from discrimination in the workplace.
Credit Ted Eytan

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay, lesbian and transgender employees are protected from discrimination on the basis of sex on Monday. The 6-3 decision extended the definition of “discrimination on the basis of sex” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual orientation and gender discrimination. 

Justice Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s first appointee to the court, wrote the majority opinion, which argued that any reason for firing a gay or transgender employee was rooted in discrimination based on their biological sex. Dissenting justices argued that the ruling was based on a modern, cultural interpretation of the statute rather than the law itself. The decision comes on the heels of a June 12 decision by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that removed nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ patients in health care and health insurance. Law experts are still discussing how the Title VII ruling may affect this decision and other statutes, such as those that cover housing or education. 

Host Frank Stasio speaks with Duke University Law School professor Trina Jones about the ruling, its significance and the implications for other statutes that deal with discrimination. Stasio also talks to Ames Simmons, the policy director for Equality NC, about how the law affects LGBTQ communities in North Carolina.