WASHINGTON, D.C. — Williams Institute scholars, joined by other experts who study the LGBTQ population, filed amici briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court in three cases that address whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits workplace discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity. In the past, the Supreme Court and other courts have relied on Williams Institute research in ruling for LGBTQ rights.

Two of the cases presently before the Court — Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia and Altitude Express Inc v. Zarda — address sexual orientation, and the third case, Harris Funeral Homes v. Stephens, addresses gender identity.

The briefs, written by Williams Institute scholar Adam Romero and attorneys from the law firm Sidley Austin, marshal social science and legal research to illustrate LGBTQ individuals’s need for legal protections and the effects when they are subjected to employment discrimination. The briefs were joined by 88 scholars of demographics, economics, law, medicine, psychology, political science, public health, public policy and other disciplines.

“Employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity can profoundly negatively impact the financial, emotional and physical well-being of LGBT people,” said Romero, the Arnold D. Kassoy Scholar of Law and Federal Policy director at the Williams Institute. “Because more than half of the states do not prohibit sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, for many LGBT people the Court’s decision will be the difference between having a remedy against discrimination at work or not.”

The Supreme Court schedules oral arguments in workplace discrimination cases for Oct. 8

Rutgers University Associate Professor of Management Oscar Holmes IV, an expert in organizational behavior, said that in 2019 it was embarrassing for there to be no federal protections for LGBTQ workers. Holmes is openly gay and African-American.

A new public service announcement, “Three Words,” produced by Open to All, speaks to the issue of businesses’ need for protections.

“No one should have to worry about whether they will be denied service or face hostility as they go about their daily lives,” said Open to All Campaign Manager Calla Rongerude. “Yet, all too often we hear stories of discrimination happening all over the country: from people of color facing abuse and violence in a diner, a gay couple being kicked out of an Uber, Muslim women ordered to leave a café, or people with disabilities being harassed in a restaurant. It’s crucial that businesses help put an end to discrimination and send a message that they welcome everyone.”

The Open to All coalition includes a growing movement of nearly 5,000 businesses large and small across the U.S., and over 200 non-profits that pledge to maintain a welcoming and safe environment for people — including employees, visitors, customers, vendors, and clients — regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, immigration status, religion or disability — and to not discriminate against any individuals or deny them services based on these characteristics.

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates has published its “2019 Workplace Equality Fact Sheet” that provides a snapshot of the state of LGBTQ workplace equality in the U.S. The 20-step approach provides a list of tools and best practices to create equality in the workplace for (LGBTQ employees.

info: williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu. business.camden.rutgers.edu. opentoall.com/three-words. bit.ly/2JuLs8h/.

Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.