The Supreme Court is currently hearing three seminal cases that will set the precedent for LGBTQ workplace protections or discrimination. Analysts also report that the rulings could set the stage for other rollbacks for protections covering all workers should the court rule against the LGBTQ plaintiffs.
Over the past two decades, the gay rights movement has made significant legal strides in the U.S., securing the right to marry, the right to private sexual relations, and the right to be able to petition local governments for anti-discrimination protection. There are still gaping holes in legal protections LGBTQ people have in the United States.
The legal framework is muddled and fractured over the question of LGBTQ rights at a place of business. Title VII is the cornerstone of civil rights law in the United States, outlining that it is illegal to discriminate against someone based on a person’s race, religion, sex, or national origin. In most cases, arguments in favor of employment protections for LGBTQ people use the language around sex to advocate for workplace protections. Federal courts have ruled both in favor and against protections from discrimination for LGBTQ people using this framework, leaving the question of legal protections largely up to individual states.
Twenty-one states prohibit discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity. Public employees have a slightly better chance of being protected under the law: four states only cover discrimination based on sexual orientation, while another eight states have legal protections that address both sexual orientation and gender identity. That leaves over half of the states in the United States, and the LGBTQ people living in them, unprotected by the legal system from workplace discrimination.