Nike, Gucci and More Brands Ask Supreme Court to Protect LGBT Workers

More than 200 companies are imploring the United States Supreme Court to support federal anti-discrimination protections for LGBT workers.

In a friend-of-the-court brief filed today, the Human Rights Campaign and other LGBT civil rights groups argued that bias against LGBT employees is considered a form of sex discrimination and thus illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The brief was also signed by a coalition of 206 companies, with more than seven million employees and upwards of $5 trillion in revenues. Notable names include retail behemoth Amazon, luxury brand Gucci, department store chain Macy’s and sportswear giant Nike.

“When workplaces are free from discrimination against LGBT employees, everyone can do their best work, with substantial benefits for both employers and employees,” the companies wrote. “Only a uniform federal rule can enable businesses to recruit and retain, and employees to perform, at their highest levels.”

The brief cited a 2018 survey finding that 46% of LGBT workers felt they were unable to be open at work about their sexual orientation or gender identity. Such fears of discrimination, the groups added, could exact a toll on employees, particularly through increased stress, difficulty trusting coworkers and feelings of isolation.

“Recognizing that Title VII prohibits these forms of sex discrimination would strengthen and expand benefits to businesses,” read the brief, “such as the ability to recruit and retain top talent; to generate innovative ideas by drawing on a greater breadth of perspectives, characteristics and experiences; to attract and better serve a diverse customer base; and to increase productivity among employees who experience their workplace as a place where they are valued and respected.”

The move comes less than two months after the Supreme Court agreed to take up a trio of cases involving workplace discrimination against LGBT employees. The justices are scheduled to hear oral arguments in October, with a ruling expected next June.

Currently, 21 states and Washington, D.C., have laws prohibiting private corporations from terminating workers for being gay or transgender.

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