Today: U.S. Supreme Court Hears Landmark LGBTQ Employment Protections Cases, with Significant Implications in Southern States


October 8, 2019

Adam Polaski | 610.306.7956 |

Today: U.S. Supreme Court Hears Landmark LGBTQ Employment Protections Cases, with Significant Implications in Southern States

Ruling in historic cases could ensure that nearly four million LGBTQ Americans who live in the South are protected from employment discrimination

Today the United States Supreme Court hears oral argument in three historic cases arguing that LGBTQ people should be protected from employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on sex. The cases have been brought by plaintiffs represented by the ACLU and private counsel. Currently, 20 states have explicit statewide employment protections for LGBTQ people, and nearly 70% of Americans support such protections. 

Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, said:

“Nowhere in the country is the need for LGBTQ employment protections greater than in the South, where one-third of all LGBTQ Americans live. No Southern state has passed employment protections for LGBTQ people, despite the fact that a majority of Southerners – including a majority in every single state – support these laws. Instead, bills proposing these protections continue to stall out in Southern state legislatures due to the political powerlessness that LGBTQ people experience in our region. Federal protections are the most effective and efficient way to ensure employment protections for all LGBTQ Southerners. This is exactly why we require action from the U.S. Supreme Court.” 

These cases speak to experiences familiar to so many LGBTQ Americans. Studies show that one-quarter of LGBTQ employees nationwide have experienced workplace discrimination in the past five years, and nearly one-half have not shared their LGBTQ identity with their coworkers or employers. Transgender people are unemployed at three times higher than the national average. 

Today’s case is also historic because it marks the first time that the Supreme Court will hear a case directly focused on transgender rights; one of the cases was brought by plaintiff Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman in Michigan who was fired from her job at a funeral home after transitioning.

Allison Scott, Director of Policy & Programs at the Campaign for Southern Equality, explained the significance of this case:

“More than 500,000 transgender Americans live in Southern states, and for far too many of us, Aimee’s story echoes our own experiences with employment discrimination. A ruling affirming that Title VII prohibits employment discrimination would be a long overdue step toward justice for LGBTQ people – and it would fuel the work ahead to build a South where LGBTQ people are truly equal in every area of life.”

A ruling is expected from the Supreme Court in the spring of 2020. 


Based in Asheville, NC, the Campaign for Southern Equality works for full LGBTQ equality across the South. Our work is rooted in commitments to equity in race, gender and class.