Apple, Google and 74 other employers urge Supreme Court to protect LGBT workers
- Seventy-six businesses, including Apple, Google, Facebook, Spotify, Starbucks and Lyft, have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether federal law protects workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation. They argue that the court should rule that it does.
- The companies asked the High Court to review an 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that held that sexual orientation discrimination is not sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- Ending discrimination in the workplace is good for business, employees and the U.S. economy, the businesses said. "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," they wrote. Moreover, the split among the federal appeals courts creates significant business costs, they argued.
The business' request puts them at odds with the Trump administration, which has taken the position that Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. There's a split within the federal government on that issue, too. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has long argued that the law includes those protections, but the Department of Justice recently took the opposite stance.
The Court has not yet said whether it will resolve the split so, in the meantime, employers have been advised to add LGBT individuals to their EEO policies and refrain from discrimination.
In addition, courts generally agree that gender stereotyping violates Title VII so these cases that turn on sexual orientation alone involve very narrow legal arguments. It's rare to be able to separate the two, so employers may want to play it safe and a take their cues from those 76 businesses.