Dozens of companies based in the United States have asked the country’s Supreme Court to shed light on whether the law that bans workplace sex discrimination offers protections to employees who are gay. The companies which include Apple, Google, Facebook, Uber and Microsoft submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court a brief which said that a split in the lower courts on the issue had resulted in uncertainty for both gay employees and their employers.
Despite the progress that the LGBT community has made in recent years leading to the legalization of same-sex marriage all over the United States, Congress has not introduced a specific piece of legislation which bars discrimination based on sexual orientation. And while civil rights laws were extended to include members of the LGBT community during the Obama administration, some of these protections have been reversed by the Trump administration under Jeff Sessions, the U.S. Attorney General.
Good for the economy
In their brief which was signed Wednesday, the 76 companies argued that offering the LGBT community protections would be a boost for the economy in the United States.
“There is no truth to the notion that laws forbidding sexual orientation discrimination are unreasonably costly or burdensome for business. To the contrary, recognizing that Title VII prohibits sexual orientation discrimination as a form of sex discrimination would strengthen and expand benefits to businesses,” the amicus brief reads.
In particular the companies want a case involving Jameka Evans, an ex-security guard at a hospital in the state of Georgia who claims she faced harassment at work because she was gay and consequently had to quit her job, examined by the Supreme Court. Earlier in the year the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed her claims on the grounds that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits sex discrimination, does not cover sexual-orientation discrimination.
1964 Civil Rights Act
This was in contrast to other cases which ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act covered sexual orientation. Six months ago the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals interpreted it differently when it ruled that a community college had committed sex discrimination when it failed to offer a full time position to an adjunct professor who is gay.
According to the 76 businesses, the differing interpretations was hurting the American society and economy. For businesses this was because they were operating in an environment of legal uncertainty. It is not yet clear whether the case will be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court.