October 8, 2019, Washington, D.C. – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Transgender Law Center joined dozens of LGBTQ and civil rights organizations on the steps of the Supreme Court to show that LGBTQ people in the workplace deserve to live freely and authentically without fear of discrimination.
“We know that it’s wrong for a boss to fire someone because of who they are – to say ‘you can’t work here’ because you’re transgender,” said Kris Hiyashi, executive director of Transgender Law Center. “We know that it’s wrong for the White House to lobby the Supreme Court to push trans and queer people out of public life. And the Supreme Court Justices know it too.”
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes V. EEOC, et al., and will decide whether gender identity discrimination against transgender people falls under the category of sex discrimination that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibited in 1964. Five appellate courts have already ruled that anti-transgender discrimination is prohibited sex discrimination, and the highest Court is expected to hand down their decision in summer 2020.
The Court also heard arguments in Altitude Express Inc. v. Zardaand Bostock v. Clayton County. These cases focus on whether sexual orientation discrimination falls under the category of sex discrimination under Title VII.
During oral arguments, some Justices touched on the purpose of civil rights laws. They emphasized that these laws were not meant to be used to exclude certain groups. They touched on the fact that, as the plain language of the statute confirms, there is no transgender exclusion to Title VII or civil rights laws.
In a particularly poignant moment during oral arguments, the attorneys for the plaintiffs noted that transgender attorneys were populating the courtroom. The ACLU attorneys noted that the very presence of transgender attorneys at the Supreme Court undercuts the idea that transgender people cannot exist in the workplace or civic life.
“The Trump Administration has made a mockery of this nation’s civil rights laws by turning its back on LGBTQ people in the workplace” said Chinyere Ezie, staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “There is no LGBTQ carve-out to generally applicable civil rights laws. Therefore, we urge the Supreme Court to affirm the rights of LGBTQ people to live and work free from invidious discrimination.”
In July, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Transgender Law Center filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court highlighting the stories of over 30 transgender people who have experienced discrimination in the workplace for being transgender. In the brief, civil rights attorneys argued that discrimination on the basis of transgender status is a form of sex discrimination and is thus illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The brief was filed on behalf of 46 organizations dedicated to eradicating discrimination against transgender and gender nonconforming people.
The Center for Constitutional Rights and Transgender Law Center centered the voices of transgender people in their amicus brief to connect the dots between discrimination experienced in the workplace and the horrific violence that has come to make headlines in recent months.
“The Trump administration is doing everything it can to make people like me feel like we don’t belong,” said Tiara Gendi, a steering committee member of Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project. “The Trump administration refuses to enforce laws and constitutional protections against discrimination. Instead they encourage violence against us because of who we are and how we look. But we are here to say we belong here.”
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.