The Supreme Court ruled this week that LGBTQ employees are protected under federal employment discrimination laws. The court ruled 6-3 in favor of granting protection from discrimination to LGBT workers, with conservatives Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Neil Gorsuch siding with the majority.
According to the ruling, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits discriminating against workers on the basis of sex also applies to gay, lesbian, transgender people.
“An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the opinion. “Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”
Justice Samuel Alito wrote the dissenting argument.
The case Bostock vs. Clayton County, Georgia entered around a Georgia man, Gerald Bostock, who claimed he was fired for "unbecoming" conduct from his job with Clayton, County, Georgia, after he began participating in a gay softball league.
The decision also ruled in favor of Aimee Stephens in the case R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Stephens, a trans woman, was fired from her job at a Michigan funeral home when she expressed her desire to live full time as a woman.
We talked with Shawna Applegate, the secretary at the Great Falls LGBTQ center, and she says this step is in the right direction.
"It's going to help people be more comfortable with who they are, and they will get more jobs. A lot of the time people in the queer community don't work because they are too anxious even to go fill out a job application or go to the interview or fear of being judged or let down," she said.
Applegate also noted, "We've been working hard here at the LGBT Center to get a non-discrimination ordinance passed here in Great Falls, which would help cover that for employment. Now, we don't have to worry about that."