Orrick Appellate Team Backs Civil Rights Groups in Major LGBTQ Rights Cases in U.S. Supreme Court

July.08.2019

An Orrick team led by appellate partner Danny Rubens has filed an amicus brief on behalf of a coalition of 59 civil rights organizations in support of the employees in three closely-watched U.S. Supreme Court cases focusing on LGBTQ rights that will be argued in October.

The brief for the coalition, which is led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, was filed in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission & Aimee Stephens.  The three cases call for the Court to decide whether employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status is permitted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The coalition’s amicus brief argues that workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and transgender status violates Title VII prohibition against sex-based discrimination.  Approaching the issue from a racial justice perspective, the brief explains that Title VII’s expansive text, alongside the statute’s storied history of rooting out pervasive workplace discrimination, compels treating LGBTQ discrimination as unlawful.  Recognition of that reality is essential to safeguarding the job security and economic stability of millions of LGBTQ persons in America, especially those most often subjected to discrimination in the workplace: LGBTQ people of color. Accordingly, the brief argues, Title VII’s settled doctrines protecting against racial discrimination must be applied with full strength to claims of sex-based discrimination, including the LGBTQ employees’ claims in these three cases.

The brief is the latest example of Orrick’s pro bono efforts in the appellate courts in support of LGBTQ rights. The firm previously weighed in with amicus briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop case, as well as more recently the Arlene’s Flowers case in the Washington Supreme Court.

In addition to Danny, associates Samuel Harbourt and Ethan Fallon contributed to the latest amicus effort in the Supreme Court.