The Supreme Court decided via a 6-3 decision that LGBT workers deserve the same protections under federal law that protects workers against gender bias. Advocates are characterizing the decision as a victory for LGBT workers. But how the decision will affect the daily lives of workers is still a little unclear.
The 1964 Civil Rights Act provides the legal context for the present argument. Lawyers for employers in opposition to the Supreme Court decision the current decision maintain the belief that the Court is in error. Attorneys argue the authors of the Civil Rights Act never intended to address issues of gender identity and sexual orientation.
The Specifics of the Ruling
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act states that no employee should face discrimination based on factors that include:
The Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, working under the Obama administration, extended Title VII provisions to include gender identity. The current legal fight began when the Trump administration targeted these provisions as one of the many Obama-era policies it would rollback.
Rights in the Workplace
The Supreme Court decision represents a watershed moment for the LGBT community. Members of the community should understand how these protections will affect their lives on a day-to-day basis.
Health Care Benefits
LGBT workers possess the legal right to the same basic health care plans as other workers at a company. However, these protections do not completely level the playing field for LGBT workers. Employers and insurance companies work together at determining treatments covered as part of an insurance plan. One example of the unequal treatment that can result includes a plan covering hormone replacement therapy for women experiencing menopause. The same health care plan may not cover the cost of a hormone treatment prescription for a transgender employee.
The Supreme Court disqualifies itself from interfering with employer firings based on religious reasons. LGBT advocates express concern that the Court’s position provides employers with a legal loophole to claim religious reasons for not honoring Title VII protections for LGBT workers.
The Supreme Court decided not to address issues of bathroom and locker room use with the current decision. This position provides employers with the flexibility to make individual decisions regarding how they will handle bathroom situations for transgender workers. Advocates say the practice of some employers that force transgender employees to use a bathroom not in line with their gender identity or a separate facility altogether is unacceptable.
Uniforms and dress codes represent another area that can become a problem for transgender employees. More than a few transgender women have lost their jobs by choosing not to wear clothing considered appropriate for males. This discriminatory practice is sometimes difficult to discern because employers will hide their intentions behind “company regulations.” Advocates say this is a common form of workplace discrimination that the LGBT community must continue to fight.
The majority of workers in the United States do not receive paid time off to care for a newborn. Companies that do provide this perk do so in most cases only for the benefit of a biological mother. Gay male couples that adopt a child do not receive the same considerations on most occasions.
The 1964 Civil Rights Act only covers businesses that employ at least 15 people. But some states have non-discrimination laws that benefit employers at smaller companies.
Discrimination in the workplace is a social issue we have been dealing with for a long time now, which is only one of the many reasons why you should always stand up for your rights. If you are struggling with making your case, seek the professional advice of a specialized lawyer.