Today marks the second anniversary of the historic Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. County of Clayton. The ACLU represented Aimee Stephens and Don Zarda in their lawsuits, which were joined on appeal with those of Gerald Bostock, and we argued Bostock on their behalf to the National High Court. Stephens, Zarda and Bostock were each fired from their jobs solely because they were members of the LGBTQ community. On June 15, 2020, we won: The court ruled that anyone in every state in the country who works or applies for a job with an employer who has at least 15 employees is protected by federal law against discrimination in the workplace. employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The LGBTQ community has sought this achievement for over 50 years. Prior to this monumental victory, workers in less than half of the states had established legal protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, and now workers in all 50 states, along with federal territories, do. Those who suffer from such discrimination now have the right to file a complaint with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which will investigate the complaint, seek to resolve it, and file the complaint on behalf of the complainant or authorize the complainant to file a complaint.
Also, many jobs related to sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination court case who had been fired before Bostock have since been revived. Having such a clear and absolute federal prohibition on employment discrimination against LGBTQ people encourages employers to take action to prevent such discrimination from happening in the first place, and to address it quickly if it does. is the case.
Moreover, the decision had far-reaching effects beyond this long-sought breakthrough and its immediate impact on federal employment discrimination law, as evidenced by the more than 250 cases that have cited Bostock in just two years since the case went to trial. Many courts have since followed the Supreme Court’s cogent reasoning—which did not depend on the specifics of the federal employment discrimination law—to conclude that other federal laws prohibiting sex discrimination in other contexts protect also against sexual orientation and discrimination based on gender identity.
This is because the Supreme Court recognized in Bostock that, logically, “it is impossible to discriminate against a person because they are homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that person because of their sex”.
Among the federal decisions based on BostockThe reasoning was a decision in the ACLU’s long contentious lawsuit Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board Case. In the final appeal of this litigation, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that after Bostockthere is no doubt that the unfavorable and unequal treatment of transgender students – including their prohibition on using restrooms corresponding to their gender identity – constitutes discrimination on the basis of sex in violation of Title IX, the federal law prohibiting discrimination sex by federally funded schools.
Likewise, in Doe vs. Snyderthe United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found that BostockThe reasoning of requires that the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination by federally funded health care providers be interpreted as prohibiting unequal treatment of transgender patients.
Bostock’s the impact also extends to federal agencies that enforce these laws. On his first day in office, President Biden issued an executive order directing all federal agencies to recognize that existing federal prohibitions on sex discrimination also protect against LGBTQ discrimination. The order was a welcome balm after four years under an administration that failed to recognize Bostock and would not enforce the legal protections that LGBTQ people enjoy under federal law.
Establishing clear federal protections against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and discrimination based on gender identity has been an important step in the pursuit of LGBTQ rights. Court rulings and agency statements finding that federal prohibitions on discrimination in housing, schools, health care, and other areas also extend to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. gender amplified the impact of this victory many times over.
But Bostock changed more than how our federal laws are understood. Courts, administrative agencies that enforce state non-discrimination laws, and state government officials in 10 states that have express statutory prohibitions on sex discrimination have also already recognized that these laws prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. sexual and/or gender identity in at least some contexts. These state protections often go further than federal laws, prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by businesses that serve the general public and by small employers that are not regulated by federal law. The result is that in addition to federal protections, LGBTQ people now enjoy protections under the law of more than 60% of states.
As we face great threats to civil liberties across our country and unprecedented legislative assaults on the rights of transgender youth, it is important to keep our triumphs in mind to maintain and build resilience and hope. Don Zarda died before his case reached the Supreme Court, and Aimee Stephens watched the Supreme Court argument but didn’t live to see the outcome. Their legacy lives on, however, in the protections that now exist not only in federal labor law, but also in many other federal and state non-discrimination laws and rules. Especially during Pride Month, remembering and commemorating the impact of their victory in Bostock makes us very proud and gives us the strength to keep fighting.