Hawaii Attorney General Clare E. Connors today joined a coalition of 22 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that federal anti-discrimination laws should protect LGBTQ+ employees.
The coalition, led by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and New York Attorney General Letitia James, is filing the brief in three cases pending before the court that involve workers fired on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is illegal,” said Connors in a news release. “Hawaii stands in support of the LGBTQ+ community and will continue to safeguard their rights.”
In their brief, the coalition argues that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination against transgender people based on sex stereotyping or their gender identity, or on the basis of sexual orientation.
The cases, which are being considered together, include Altitude Express v. Zarda; Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia; and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC.
Two of the cases, Altitude Express v. Zarda and Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, involve employees who were terminated from their jobs after their employers learned they were gay.
The third case, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, involves a transgender woman who was fired after she asked her employer for permission to dress in accordance with her gender identity.
Employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity increases the already high rates of prejudice LGBTQ+ people experience at work, the coalition said, as well harassment in the workplace — from denial of jobs and promotions to physical and sexual assault.
The attorneys general also argued that discrimination against LGBTQ+ employees impedes states’ ability to promote equality and protect residents’ dignity, economic security and mental health. Discrimination against LGBTQ+ workers also has an economic impact on states because many are forced to rely on public assistance programs when denied the ability to support themselves.
The coalition is made up of the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.