Hi. My name is Chip Clark, and I am a partner at Goodin Abernathy, where I focus primarily on the rights of employees.
On June 15, 2020, the United States Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in the case of Bostock v. Clayton County, holding that federal law prohibits employment discrimination against LGBTQ workers.
Interestingly, conservative Justice, Neil M. Gorsuch, wrote for the majority in the 6-to-3 ruling, stating:
“An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.”
The case concerned Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employment discrimination based on race, religion, national origin and sex. The question for the justices was whether that last prohibition — discrimination “because of sex”— applies to many millions of gay and transgender workers.
Justice Gorsuch wrote that it did.
“An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex,”
Gorsuch goes on to say,
“It is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.”
The court considered two sets of cases. The first concerned a pair of lawsuits from gay men who said they were fired because of their sexual orientation: Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga., No. 17-1618, and Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, No. 17-1623. The second was based on gender identity. In that case, Aimee Stephens, was a funeral director working near Detroit when she was fired in 2013 after announcing she would begin living as a woman. Sadly, Aimee died in May at the age of 59, not living to see her heroic contribution to this landmark decision. Her willingness to stand up to her employer now makes it it illegal for employers to terminate an employee based on gender identity.
In 27 states, there are no explicit statewide laws protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations, according to Freedom For All Americans, a bipartisan campaign to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination. An employee in one of these states conceivably could be fired for being gay or transgender – and would have no guaranteed rights against it.
In 21 other states, plus the District of Columbia, employees had full protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodation.
There are 8.1 million LGBTQ workers ages 16 and older in the USA, according to the institute. About 3.9 million of those work in those 27 states.
What About Discrimination in Small Businesses with Fewer than 15 Employees?
Unfortunately, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act only prohibits employment discrimination by employers with 15 or more employees.
Conceivably, a business with fewer than 15 employees in certain parts of Indiana could still legally fire somebody on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, unless there is a city or county ordinance prohibiting such discrimination.
Here, in the City of Indianapolis, we have had an ordinance that prohibits such discrimination since 2005. Other Indiana communities have laws to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation, but not gender identity, so there still remains a patchwork of laws if your employer has fewer than 15 employees.
What Should Workers Do If They Are Fired Based on Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity?
If you’re fired on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, the first call you should make is to an attorney who knows and understands this area of the law. We can assist you with filing a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the local agency that enforces state or local anti-discrimination laws. This is the first step in filing a lawsuit in Federal or State Court against an employer who discriminates.
If you have questions about your rights as a member of the LGBTQ community, please call me for free, no obligation, consultation.
The economic impact on small businesses due to COVID-19 is undeniable. Further, the uncertainty surrounding the length of the shut-down and the availability of funds for relief loans has left many business owners wondering whether the business interruption coverage in their commercial general liability policy will provide coverage to offset financial losses incurred. Politicians in Washington have asked insurers to justify the refusal to pay out claims, and already class action lawsuits are being filed around the country against insurance companies.
When assessing whether business interruption coverage in a commercial general liability insurance policy applies to economic losses caused by COVID-19, the answer is—it depends on the particular policy. Generally speaking, however, most business interruption clauses require the loss of business income to be caused by direct physical loss or damage to the property that prevents the business from operating. Although it appears the COVID-19 virus can survive on surfaces for up to five (5) days, it is doubtful that this phenomenon would qualify as direct physical loss or damage to the property or be of sufficient duration to trigger most insurance clauses. In addition, many commercial general liability insurance policies exclude coverage for losses caused by viral contamination.
On the contrary, it is possible that the specific wording and coverages in any particular policy may provide coverage. For example, businesses operating in the food service industry or the hospitality industry may have specific clauses in their respective insurance policies that relate to losses caused by viruses or alternative business interruption losses like event cancellations. Consequently, all business owners who have sustained financial losses due to COVID-19 are encouraged to examine their insurance contracts.
Volunteers with NOPAL Cultural promoting their Dia de los Muertos event last weekend at the Indy 11 game.
Our good friends at NOPAL Cultural have a special celebration of Day of the Dead planned for this Saturday, October 31, 2015 from 11am to 5pm at the Eiteljorg Museum in downtown Indianapolis. The event will highlight the exhibition of ofrendas and altares made by local artists and civic groups to honor their loved ones. There will be special musical performances, art projects, a marketplace and a Catrina parade. The event is free and open to the public. You can find out more at the event page on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/events/770875693040591/ We hope to see you there!
How does your family remember your loved ones? How do you celebrate Day of the Dead? Let us know in the comments!
The U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx kicked off the National Distracted Driving Enforcement Campaign across the United States entitled: “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.”
This catchy phrase is simple and to the point when only a financial loss is considered; however, the “Pay” portion also includes the emotional element people go through when involved in a motor vehicle accident. Per statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 10 percent of traffic accidents resulting in death and 18 percent of personal injury traffic accidents were due to distracted driving. 2013 had 244 teenagers lose their life due to distracted driving. The emotional toll that is taken on people injured and their friends and family is impossible to quantify. The guilt the distracted driver will experience and “pay” is also impossible to quantify.
It is important for all of us to put down our cell phones and concentrate on our driving. For adults, it is also important to set a good example for our children and teenagers that a cell phone should not be used while driving, as pretty soon, they will also be behind the wheel as an inexperienced and novice driver.
Be safe and put down the cell phone while driving.
Goodin Abernathy Partner, Elizabeth Wysong-Berg is one of 25 attorneys from across the state of Indiana chosen to participate in the Indiana State Bar Association’s Leadership Development Academy. This is just one more feather in Elizabeth’s cap, and we are all very proud of her achievement. She is a tremendous asset and will serve the State Bar Association well for many years to come.
HELLO, FORT WAYNE INDIANA! Goodin Abernathy LLP is excited about its expansion into the Fort Wayne region. We’ll meet in person with clients in the area, providing a variety of legal services. Call 800-625-4710 or E-mail us to schedule appointments! Listen for us on Hot 107.9