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Attorney General James Files Supreme Court Brief to Protect LGBTQ+ Employees from Discrimination

AG James Co-Leads 22 AGs to Halt Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity

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On the heels of Pride Month and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots that began the modern gay rights movement, New York Attorney General Letitia James and Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, along with a coalition of 20 additional Attorneys General from around the nation, are today filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that federal anti-discrimination laws protect LGBTQ+ individuals in the workplace. The coalition is filing the brief in three cases pending before the court that involve workers being fired based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Fifty years after Stonewall, members of the LGBTQ+ community are still fighting for equal rights in every aspect of their lives,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “No one should be singled out or discriminated against in this country — not for their race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, or any other reason — which is why we are going to the Supreme Court to ensure equality for all Americans. My office will continue to do everything in its power to support this community and will work to safeguard individuals in the LGBTQ+ community from being unfairly targeted.”

The brief is being filed in the Supreme Court cases of Altitude Express v. ZardaBostock v. Clayton County, Georgia; and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, which are being considered together by the Supreme Court.

Two of the cases — Altitude Express v. Zarda and Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia — involve employees who were terminated from their jobs after their employers learned they were gay. The third case — R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC — involves a transgender woman who was fired by the funeral home where she worked when she asked her employer for permission to dress in accordance with her gender identity.

The Attorneys General argue that the prohibition on discrimination based on sex in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 encompasses discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation; prohibits employment discrimination against transgender people or on the basis of sexual orientation; and prohibits discrimination against transgender people based on sex stereotyping or their gender identity.

Employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity increases the already high rates of prejudice members of the LGBTQ+ community experience at work. It also contributes to increased harassment of LGBTQ+ employees in the workplace, which ranges from denial of jobs and promotions to physical and sexual assault.

In the brief, the Attorneys General go on to argue that discrimination against LGBTQ+ employees impedes States’ ability to promote equality and protect residents’ dignity, economic security, and mental health. Furthermore, the coalition argues that discrimination against LGBTQ+ workers has a powerful economic impact on States because when these residents are denied the ability to support themselves, many are forced to rely on public assistance programs. Discrimination against LGBTQ+ workers also decreases business productivity and increases health costs, which inhibits States’ economic growth.

Joining Attorneys General James and Raoul in filing the amicus brief are the Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.