Supreme Court to hear cases on LGBT workplace discrimination

LGBT employees in Tennessee may be concerned about the outcome of three upcoming cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. At the same time, they may be heartened to receive the support of hundreds of major corporations in a friend-of-the-court brief filed in the cases. On Oct. 8, the high court is expected to hear oral arguments in the three cases stemming from decisions by federal appeals courts in New York, Cincinnati and Chicago. The courts in those cases ruled that gay, lesbian and transgender workers were protected against discrimination under existing federal civil rights laws prohibiting sex discrimination.

While the Obama administration's Justice Department supported those rulings, the Trump administration has changed course, arguing that civil rights law does not protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBT workers have been concerned about the outcome of the Supreme Court cases, especially since the court has new conservative justices. However, while big corporations often advocate for positions adopted by conservative jurists, in this case, major corporations are urging that LGBT workers be protected against discrimination.

The brief, submitted by five LGBT rights organizations, was signed by over 200 major corporations, including Amazon, Coca-Cola, Xerox, Walt Disney, Bank of America, Microsoft and Nike. The companies point out that a patchwork of state and local human rights ordinances and laws against workplace discrimination protect LGBT workers in some states. However, workers in other states rely on federal protections. This means that national companies do not have one framework to deal with discrimination concerns, raising serious legal and cost problems.

Despite the expressed support of major companies, LGBT employees continue to face serious problems with workplace discrimination. Employees who have lost jobs, promotions or pay because of their sexual orientation or gender identity might benefit from consulting with an employment lawyer for options to pursue justice.

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