A Tipping Point for LGBTQ Rights

Katherine Franke & Suzanne Goldberg
June 15, 2020

Press Advisory

Date: June 15, 2020
Subject: A Tipping Point for LGBTQ Rights
Contact: Katherine Franke, kfranke@law.columbia.edu

New York, New York — The Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School celebrates the ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court today recognizing that workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, and transgender employees is prohibited by Title VII, the federal law passed by Congress in 1964 that prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.  The opinion in Bostock v. Clayton County is available here.

            “The Supreme Court’s decision today recognizes that LGBT people in the United States are entitled to the same level of respect, dignity, and equality as all other workers,” said Katherine Franke, co-Director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, and James L. Dohr Professor of Law at Columbia University.  “The fact that two of the more conservative members of the Supreme Court joined in the decision reaching this result today signals a tipping point in securing full equality for LGBT people.  Quite clearly, this ruling will have implications beyond the workplace, and will include rights to equality for LGBT people in healthcare, housing, public accommodations, foster care, and other important settings.”

            “This is a simple and profound victory for LGBT civil rights,” observed Suzanne B. Goldberg, co-Director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, and Herbert and Doris Wechsler Clinical Professor of Law at Columbia University.  “Many of us feared that the Court was poised to gut sex discrimination protections and allow employers to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity, yet it declined the federal government's invitation to take that damaging path. Today's ruling will strengthen protection for traditional sex discrimination cases as much as it will for claims brought by LGBT people because it reaffirms a basic point:  that employers may not treat their employees differently on account of sex.” 

            Professor Goldberg filed an amicus brief in the case on behalf of women CEOs and c-suite executives, including Shonda Rhimes and Sheryl Sandberg.  The brief is available here.