The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to declare that federal law allow private companies to fire workers based on their sexual orientation alone.
In a brief filed by the Justice Department, they weighed in on two cases involving gay workers and what is meant by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans discrimination
“because of sex.”
The administration said that courts nationwide should stop reading the civil rights law to protect gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers from bias because it was not originally intended to do so.
In its brief yesterday, the administration says that Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination only prohibits unequal treatment between
It argued last week in a related brief against transgender rights, in which the Justice Department said companies should be able to fire people because they are transgender as well.
The DOJ’s brief said,
“Title VII’s prohibition on discrimination because of sex does not bar discrimination because of sexual orientation.”
The ordinary meaning of ‘sex’ is biologically male or female; it does not include sexual orientation. An employer thus discriminates ‘because of … sex’ under Title VII if it treats members of one sex worse than similarly situated members of the other sex. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, standing alone, does not satisfy that standard.”
According to Buzzfeed,
The Justice Department added that Congress only intended to ban discrimination because someone is male or female — saying the sexes cannot be treated differently — and that other laws recognizing LGBTQ people show Congress could have amended Title VII to include LGBTQ rights, but chose not to.
A Supreme Court ruling in the government’s favor could trigger cascading ramifications for LGBTQ rights. Limiting the scope of Title VII would assert that a raft of state and federal laws banning sex-based discrimination have no application for sexual orientation or gender identity, a ruling that would likely reach far beyond employment to other settings where sex discrimination is banned, including public schools.
Now, no federal law explicitly bans anti-LGBTQ discrimination in workplaces.
(Photo, Wikimedia Commons; via Buzzfeed News)