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SCOTUS Upholds Protections for LGBTQ Workers Under Title VII and Advances Economic Justice for LGBTQ Survivors

June 15, 2020

Statement from Deborah J. Vagins, President & CEO at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, following the Supreme Court decision upholding protections for LGBTQ workers under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Today, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in three combined cases, Bostock v. Clayton County, GA; Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda; R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. EEOC, holding that an employer who fires an individual for their gender identity or sexual orientation violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Gerald Bostock is the only plaintiff who lived to see this decision; while Aimee Stephens and Don Zarda may not have survived to see their victory, their courage and perseverance in the face of adversity helped lead to this groundbreaking outcome.

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court confirmed that prohibiting discrimination “on the basis of sex” under Title VII includes workplace protections for LGBTQ employees. We at the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) applaud the Supreme Court’s momentous decision; never again can employees be fired or discriminated against at work for who they are or who they love. This case resolves conflicting lower court opinions and provides much-needed employment protections for millions of LGBTQ workers in the United States.

Access to employment and being free from employment discrimination is a key safety strategy for survivors of domestic violence, whose partners may use financial abuse as a tool to exert control. The ruling helps advance safety and justice for survivors in the LGBTQ community who have frequently faced significant barriers at work, which can often jeopardize their long-term safety and stability. 

We recognize, however, that this important decision comes on the heels of the Administration’s action last week that allows discrimination against LGBTQ individuals in healthcare and in the midst of the crisis of murdered Black transgender women, including Riah Milton, Dominque Fells, and many others. There is much more work to be done in ending oppression against individuals who experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence. Today’s decision is a great victory, but it does not close all the gaps in anti-discrimination policies, which is why NNEDV will continue to support passage of additional laws, like the Equality Act, and others to provide clear and consistent protections for LGBTQ people across all areas of life.

Deborah J. Vagins, NNEDV President and CEO