Bay Area tech gi­ants ask Supreme Court to se­cure pro­tec­tions for LGBT work­ers

The Mercury News Weekend - - DATA - By Se­ung Lee slee@ba­yare­anews­ Con­tact Se­ung Lee at 408920- 5021.

Ap­ple, Google, Face­book and Uber have signed onto an am­i­cus brief urg­ing the U.S. Supreme Court to find that fed­eral laws ban dis­crim­i­na­tion against em­ploy­ees on the ba­sis of their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

De­spite re­cent progress for the LGBT com­mu­nity in the le­gal world, cul­mi­nat­ing in le­gal­ized same-sex mar­riage across the United States, no spe­cific law from Con­gress bars sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion-based dis­crim­i­na­tion.

Af­ter the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion ex­tended ex­ist­ing civil rights laws to cover the LGBT com­mu­nity, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion un­der At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions re­versed some of the pro­tec­tions.

Pit ting them­selves against theWhiteHouse, 76 busi­nesses— also in­clud­ing In­tel, eBay, Lyft and Airbnb — ar­gued in the­brief signed Wed­nes­day that such pro­tec­tions for the LGBT com­mu­nity would be a boon for the Amer­i­can econ­omy.

“There is no truth to the no­tion that laws for­bid­ding sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion dis­crim­i­na­tion are un­rea­son­ably costly or bur­den­some for busi­ness,” reads the am­i­cus brief. “To the con­trary, rec­og­niz­ing that Ti­tle VII pro­hibits sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion dis­crim­i­na­tion as a form of sex dis­crim­i­na­tion would strengthen and ex­pand ben­e­fits to busi­nesses.”

The case the busi­nesses want the Supreme Court to ex­am­ine in­volves Jameka Evans, a for­mer se­cu­rity guard at a Sa­van­nah, Ge­or­gia hospi­tal who says she was ha­rassed and forced to quit her job be­cause she is gay.

In March, the 11th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals in At­lanta dis­missed her claim, say­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion based on sex­ual orien- tation is not cov­ered by the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s Ti­tle VII, which pro­hibit sex dis­crim­i­na­tion.

But sim­i­lar cases tried else­where in the United States did con­clude dis­crim­i­na­tion based on sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion was cov­ered un­der the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In April, the Sev­enth U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals in Chicago ruled­in­fa­vor of an In­di­ana-based ad­junct com­mu­nity- col­lege pro­fes­sor, who al­leged that she was shut out of full-time po­si­tions be­cause she is les­bian.

“Any dis­com­fort, dis­ap­proval, or job de­ci­sion based on the fact that the com­plainant — wo­man or man — dresses dif­fer­ently, speaks dif­fer­ently, or dates or­mar­ries a same-sex part­ner, is a re­ac­tion purely and sim­ply based on sex,” wrote Judge Diane Wood. “That means that it falls within Ti­tle VII’s pro­hi­bi­tion against sex dis­crim­i­na­tion, if it af­fects em­ploy- ment in one of the spec­i­fied ways.”

The clash of in­ter­pre­ta­tions by the cir­cuit courts hurts the Amer­i­can econ­omy and so­ci­ety, ar­gues the am­i­cus brief.

“Busi­nesses have the great­est op­por­tu­nity for suc­cess when they op­er­ate un­der le­gal cer­tainty,” ac­cord­ing to the brief. “Ex­clud­ing sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion fromTi­tle VII’s sex dis­crim­i­na­tion pro­tec­tions un­der­mines busi­nesses’ ef­forts to re­cruit, or­ga­nize, and re­tain tal­ent.”

While com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­ual states have laws bar­ring sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion­based dis­crim­i­na­tion, the com­pa­nies ar­gued it was not suf­fi­cient and needed a na­tional prece­dent.

It is un­clear if the Supreme Court will take the case, Evans v. Ge­or­gia Re­gional Hospi­tal.

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