Companies Urge Supreme Court to Support LGBT Workplace Protections

Apple Google Among Firms Urging US Supreme Court to Weigh Gay Workers Rights

Facebook, Google and Apple are among the 76 companies asking the Supreme Court to hear a case involving a woman who was sacked because she's a lesbian.

Major U.S. companies and organizations, including tech giants, financial institutions and sports teams, are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to create uniform federal protections for gay, lesbian and transgender employees.

The WSJ reports that the brief was filed after an earlier appeals court ruled against a lesbian employee.

Jameka Evans had sued former employer Georgia Regional Hospital in Savannah, saying she was discriminated against and forced out of her job.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in Atlanta, dismissed her claim in March, after holding that sex discrimination, which the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits under Title VII, doesn't encompass discrimination based on sexual orientation.

A total of 76 companies signed up to the brief to urge the Supreme Court to make a ruling on the issue.

The move comes as campaigners warn of a lack of federal protections and 27 USA states which don't have state-wide laws protecting against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Conflicting rulings by lower courts seem to suggest that the matter will at some point need to be settled by the Supreme Court.

The panel voted 2-1 to state that Title VII, which does protect for a number of factors, doesn't include sexual orientation.

In April, a different appeals court in Chicago became the first to rule in favor of a gay worker under Title VII.

"The nation's top corporations recognize that discrimination is bad for business", said Greg Nevins, Employment Fairness Project Director for Lambda Legal. President Donald Trump's administration has taken the view that it does not.

Even in States like NY that have laws barring sexual-orientation discrimination in the workplace, "Title VII plays a crucial complementary role by covering individuals not subject to the State's laws-for instance, federal employees or residents who work in another State-and by making available both the federal courts and a federal enforcer, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), to police invidious discrimination based on sexual orientation".

"We believe in treating every person we come into contact with - whether it's our employees, our consumers, or our vendors - with dignity and respect", said Anna Walker, Senior Director for Global Policy and Advocacy at Levi Strauss & Co.

The brief also notes that approximately 10 million adults in the United States, or 4.1 percent of all adults, identify as LGBT.

Apple, Google and Microsoft, alongside 73 other companies, have urged the US Supreme Court to clarify protections for gay employees. Businesses offering transgender inclusive healthcare coverage also jumped from 511 to 647 companies over the year.

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