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USC experts discuss Supreme Court ruling on LGBT workers

Monday’s landmark decision could extend protections to others, as well.

Pride flag: Supreme Court LGBT ruling
The court decided that a key provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 encompasses bias against LGBT workers. (Photo/Pixabay)

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a landmark civil rights law protects gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in employment. The court decided that a key provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 encompasses bias against LGBT workers.

Monday’s decision could extend protections to others, as well.

“The court’s decision in Bostock [v. Clayton County, Ga., one of three cases ruled upon Monday,] has potentially much broader application,” said David Cruz, Newton Professor of Constitutional Law at the USC Gould School of Law and a constitutional law expert focusing on civil rights and equality issues, including equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.

“The Supreme Court might well rule that the Trump administration’s attempt to roll back an Obama-era regulation under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which until Friday interpreted the ACA’s ban on sex discrimination to reach sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, is contrary to the statute and legally void.

“Although Bostock was grounded in the meaning of a statutory text that proscribes ‘discrimination’ ‘because of’ ‘sex,’ it would not be a stretch to see the Supreme Court rule that the Bostock reasoning shows that the constitutional concept of sex discrimination embraces sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. This would then extend protection against governmental discrimination under the Constitution even where statutes don’t reach. That could have enormous benefit for LGBT people in a variety of contexts, including the federal government’s transgender military service ban.”

Supreme Court LGBT ruling upholds American values

Alison Dundes Renteln, professor of political science, anthropology, public policy and law at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, said the ruling upholds values that are at the heart of American democracy.

“The historic Supreme Court ruling in favor of equality and non-discrimination demonstrate our government’s recognition of its obligation to protect the human rights of all – commitments we have under U.S. law and international law. Despite political polarization, this decision shows that liberals and conservatives appreciate the importance of these values, which are at the heart of the American democratic tradition,” Renteln said.

“Another benefit of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions is their potential to influence judicial decision making in other countries consistent with principles of equality and non-discrimination. Legal elites sometimes look to the U.S. for inspiration on legal reasoning.

“Despite victories in protecting rights in the workplace, discrimination against the LGBTQ community persists in the U.S. in many other areas besides employment.”

More protections needed despite Supreme Court LGBT ruling

Jeremy Goldbach, an associate professor at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and director of the Center for LGBT Health Equity, said more protections are needed to achieve equality.

“Today is a one step forward, one step back, kind of moment,” Goldbach said. “While it was a great day in the fight for LGBTQ job security and employment equity, we are also facing reduced protections for transgender and gender non-binary people in their fight for equal access to healthcare.

“We should celebrate today’s victory, but keep our eyes on the many other laws and practice that still need to change in order to achieve equal rights.”

Milestone Supreme Court LGBT ruling

And Kirk Snyder, associate professor at the USC Marshall School of Business, agreed that the decision is a milestone.

“This landmark ruling by the Supreme Court means that all across the country, LGBTQ job applicants and employees can no longer be denied job opportunities or be fired because of their authentic identities,” Snyder said.

“This ruling expands career opportunities for LGBTQ Americans and affirms the human value each brings to the world of work. It is a foundational step in expanding opportunities for millions of people to find work they love and be recognized for the unique value they bring to the job market, which ultimately represents an economic win for the country and a step forward in the march for equality.”

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