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LGBTQ group petitions Supreme Court about workplace rights

California has been an epicenter for the development of rights for gay, lesbian, and transgender people. Lambda Legal, a group that advocates for LGBTQ rights, has partnered with the Stanford Supreme Court Litigation Clinic to petition the Supreme Court of the United States. They want the justices to review a decision from a federal appeals court that interpreted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act as not preventing discrimination against gays, lesbians and bisexuals at work.

The petitioners are hoping to gain clarification on the issue that has become muddied by contradictory interpretations by the U.S. Department of Justice and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. These executive agencies oversee different employment sectors. The Justice Department manages discrimination cases against state and local government employers. The EEOC represents employee complaints against private companies and federal government employers.

The solicitor general’s office of the Justice Department maintains that Title VII provides no protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The EEOC has made clear that sexual orientation represents a protected status for employees. Federal courts have produced decisions according to both interpretations. The current petition before the Supreme Court argues that employees regardless of where they work should have consistent protection from discrimination.

Because the rules that define workplace discrimination are complex, an employee being treated unfairly might want legal advice. An attorney could examine the evidence to see if a lawsuit could potentially recover damages. To build a case, an attorney could interview co-workers, request payroll records and employee evaluations and collect other correspondence between the person and the employer.