NAR: SCOTUS Ruling Delivers 'Victory for Fairness'

June 16, 2020

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling on Monday to protect the LGBTQ community from discrimination in the workplace by expanding protections from the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The Civil Rights Act already bans discrimination in employment based on race, religion, national origin, and sex.

The court voted in favor of the LGBTQ workplace protections in a 6–3 opinion.

The National Association of REALTORS® applauded the court’s ruling on Monday, calling it a “victory for fairness.”

“NAR counts many LGBTQ persons among its 1.4 million members, and we are overjoyed to celebrate this victory with them today,” NAR President Vince Malta said in a statement shortly after the ruling.

In 2016, NAR adopted a motion to seek legislation that includes sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under the Fair Housing Act. NAR amended its Code of Ethics in 2010 and 2014 to prohibit discrimination in real estate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Now, all LGBTQ persons will have this same peace of mind in the workplace,” Malta said about Monday’s ruling. “Many minorities, unfortunately, know the sickening feeling that comes with the fear of losing a job because of prejudice. This ruling today is a victory for fairness at a time when our country needs it most. It offers momentum in the fight for equality for all persons suffering under the weight of intolerance and bias.”

The Supreme Court weighed three cases before issuing its ruling. Two of the cases involved employees who filed a lawsuit after accusing their employers of firing them because they were gay. Another case stemmed from a male funeral director in Livonia, Mich., who says she was fired two weeks after she told her boss that she was transgender and would be coming to work as a woman. In two of these cases, the people who had brought on the lawsuit have since died, but their legal cases continued.

“It is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating … based on sex,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the 33-page majority opinion.

Nearly half of U.S. states have no legal protections in place for LGBTQ employees. Federal law will now protect employees in those states from being fired or treated unfairly due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Today’s decision is one of the court’s most significant rulings ever with respect to the civil rights of gay and transgender individuals,” Steve Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, told CNN. “On its terms, the decision is only about discrimination in the workplace. But it inevitably opens the door to a host of other challenges to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status on the ground that it, too, is impermissibly based upon sex. In that respect, only the court’s 2015 ruling recognizing a constitutional right to same-sex marriage may be equally as significant.”

About 1 million workers in the LGBTQ community identity as transgender and 7.1 million Americans in the workplace identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, according to UCLA’s Williams Institute.

Read the court’s full opinion.