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Apple joins 75 companies urging US Supreme Court for gay employees’ protections

Joseph McCormick October 11, 2017
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Apple, Google and Microsoft, alongside 73 other companies, have urged the US Supreme Court to clarify protections for gay employees.

The tech giants urged the highest court in the US to clarify whether a law protecting against workplace discrimination covers sexual orientation.

The move comes as campaigners warn of a lack of federal protections and 27 US states which don’t have state-wide laws protecting against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

A total of 76 companies signed up to the brief to urge the Supreme Court to make a ruling on the issue.

CUPERTINO, CA - OCTOBER 27: Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks on stage during an Apple product launch event on October 27, 2016 in Cupertino, California. Apple Inc. is expected to unveil the latest iterations of its MacBook line of laptops (Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images)

It revolves around the case of Jameka Evans, a woman who says she was forced to quit her job as a security guard at a hospital after being harassed for being a lesbian.

The brief from the companies states that lower courts’ conflicting rulings on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and whether it protects against sexual orientation discrimination, are causing confusion for employers and employees alike.

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A federal appeals court ruled in Evans’ lawsuit that she was not protected by Title VII.

The US federal court earlier this year declined to rehear the case which found that an employer could discriminate against Evans.

Earlier this year, a three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 1964 Title VII doesn’t protect against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.

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Jameka Evans had sued former employer Georgia Regional Hospital in Savannah, saying she was discriminated against and forced out of her job.

Employemnt discrimination

The panel voted 2-1 to state that Title VII, which does protect for a number of factors, doesn’t include sexual orientation.

The 11th Circuit on Thursday declined to take up the case with a full court.

According to Lambda Legal, the organisation representing Evans, she plans to appeal to the US Supreme Court.

Greg Nevins, a lawyer with Lambda, confirmed that the organisation would appeal the decision.

It is not guaranteed that the US Supreme Court will take on the case, but lower courts are divided on the issue.

Trump officials last month claimed that they accidentally removed protections for their LGBT employees.

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Under its new Republican leadership, the Department of Commerce has revised its equal employment opportunity policy for employees, to omit a reference to sexual orientation and gender identity.

The change comes from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who issued a new version of the Secretarial Policy Statement on Equal Employment Opportunity this week.

The 2016 statement had listed protected characteristics as “race, colour, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, genetic information, or disability”.

However, the 2017 version was very specifically edited to remove LGBT people.

More: US

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