For the first time ever, the US Supreme Court on Monday took up employment discrimination cases that could determine whether lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers can be fired based on their identity at a national level.
The issue is whether Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination, protects LGBT people from job discrimination.
Title VII does not particularly mention anything regarding the sexual orientation, but federal appeals courts in Chicago and New York have ruled recently that gay and lesbian employees are entitled to protection from discrimination. In Cincinnati, the federal appeals court has even extended similar protections for transgender people.
Will the supreme court do the same?
The Obama administration had supported treating LGBT discrimination claims as sex discrimination, but the Trump administration has changed course.
The Trump Justice Department has argued that Title VII was not intended to provide protection to gay or transgender workers. The administration also separately withdrew Obama-era guidance to educators, refusing to treat claims of transgender students as sex discrimination.
The justices will take up three cases in the fall:
Federal appeals court in New York ruled in favor of a gay skydiving instructor who claimed he was fired because of his sexual orientation.
A Georgia case, which the federal appeals court ruled against a gay employee of Clayton County, in the Atlanta suburbs.
A Michigan case, which a funeral home fired a transgender woman. The appeals court in Cincinnati ruled that the firing constituted sex discrimination under federal law.
Decisions of these cases will be concluded in the middle of the presidential election campaign by June 2020.