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The Supreme Court is about to hear 3 cases that could decide if people can be fired for being LGBTQ

Canela López | Business Insider

09/25/2019

  • Three individual cases will be heard by the US Supreme Court on October 8 to determine whether or not LGBTQ people are protected from workplace discrimination under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

  • The passage of the act in question is Title VII, which states discrimination "on the basis of sex" is against the law. 

  • The Trump administration filed two amicus briefs earlier this year — one making the case that sexuality-based discrimination is not covered under Title VII, the other arguing that transgender people are not protected under Title VII. 

  • If the court rules in favor of the Trump administration's findings, the 11.3 million Americans who identify as LGBTQ could be vulnerable to being fired on the basis of sexuality and gender identity.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

On October 8, the US Supreme Court will hear three separate cases that could overturn workplace protections for LGBTQ people across the country. 

The proceedings will determine whether or not LGBTQ people can be fired on the basis of their gender identity or sexual orientation. The justices will determine whether LGBTQ people are covered under existing anti-discrimination measures for workplaces as outlined in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, or whether such discrimination is legal.

If the justices find that gender identity and sexual orientation are covered under the existing civil rights law, this will mean that the LGBTQ people will be protected from being fired regardless of whether or not individual states mandate it. 

Similarly to the 2013 Defense of Marriage decision and 2015 Marriage Equality Act, the polarizing court case will decide the fate of 11.3 million LGBTQ Americans

As with precedent-making cases before it, the White House has taken a particular interest in these cases. Earlier this year, the Trump Administration filed two amicus briefs to the Supreme Court. One argues that transgender people are not covered under existing civil rights law, the other argues that sexuality-based discrimination is also not covered under the existing laws. 

In order to understand what rights might be at stake for LGBTQ people and why the Trump administration's stance has been met with staunch backlash, here's a quick breakdown of the court cases being heard, the civil rights law in question, and what the possible outcomes could mean for LGBTQ people in the United States.

The arguments rely on different interpretations of the 1964 Civil Rights Act

Passed as the culmination of years of activism and organizing during the Civil Rights Movement, the 1964 Civil Rights Act federally mandated standards for employers, banning discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. 

Title VII of the law states that discrimination "on the basis of sex" by employers is illegal. The question is over the definition of the "sex" part.

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