Neither the government nor gigantic corporations are necessarily our “friends.” Their toleration of us always seems to be super conditional, based on either pressure from the electorate if we’re talking about the former or our potential profitability as a consumer group if we’re talking about the latter.
Now with that disclaimer out of the way, it’s heartening to see that at least one of those two groups is doing something to protect gay people in the workplace
Reuters reports that Google, Apple, Microsoft, Viacom, and 72 other companies have submitted a brief to the Supreme Court of the United Courts, asking the justices to rule on whether Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that prohibits employment discrimination based on sex applies to sexual orientation as well.
They are urging the court to take upJameka v. Evans Regional Hospital, a case involving a security guard who says she was harassed and forced to quit her job because she’s a lesbian, to make that ruling. (This ruling, I should note, only covers sexual orientation. A ruling on whether Title VII covers gender identity would need to come from a subsequent ruling.)
An affirmative ruling in Evans like that would be a big deal because we don’t have any laws protecting people on the basis of their sexual orientation, at least at the federal level. These laws do exist at the state level22 states plus D.C., according to the Movement Advancement Projectbut there are 28 states that lack such legislative protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer people, not to mention anyone perceived to be any of the above.
Without federal laws or a Supreme Court ruling to guide them, lower courts in a number of states often interpret Title VII’s sex discrimination prohibitions super strictly as just referring to biological sex, despite decades old precedents to the contrary.
This state-by-state discrepancy creates an understandable “uncertainty and vulnerability” among LGBTQ workers, the companies say in their brief, which results in “diminished employee health, productivity, job engagement, and satisfaction.” Hard to argue with that! Unless you’re Jeff Sessions!!