We are writing to invite your company or industry association to join a nationwide, business-led effort to sign onto a legal brief in three cases that will be heard by the United States Supreme Court involving discrimination against LGBT people.
The Supreme Court recently announced that it will decide whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity as forms of sex discrimination. The business community can play an important role in these cases by signing a “friend of the court” brief (also known as an “amicus brief”) in support of anti-discrimination protections for LGBT workers under Title VII. The amicus brief will argue to the Supreme Court that interpreting Title VII to prohibit sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination is good for employees, businesses, and the economy as a whole. This amicus brief will be along the lines of similar business-led briefs that saw participation from hundreds of Fortune 500 companies and major business groups.
The single brief will be submitted jointly in all three cases being considered by the Court. We expect to have a significant number of companies and business organizations represented on this brief. The brief will be filed on July 3, 2019, so the deadline for signing on is June 27, 2019.
ABOUT THE AMICUS BRIEF
We are looking for companies and business organizations that value and promote diversity, equality, and inclusion in the workplace to join an amicus brief supporting the LGBT employees in these cases. The brief will provide the Supreme Court with employers’ unique and important perspective and experiences on this issue—specifically, that interpreting Title VII to prohibit sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in the workplace is good for employees, good for employers, and good for the U.S. economy. The brief will also point out how the failure to protect LGBT employees from discrimination hurts workplace productivity and talent retention.
The brief will be written and filed on a pro bono basis by attorneys at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, one of the nation’s largest litigation firms, along with Robinson Curley P.C., a leading boutique business litigation law firm in Chicago. The process is being organized by the organizations listed on the letterhead here.
Over the last couple of years, Quinn Emanuel has prepared and filed similar briefs on behalf of prominent employers and companies from all industries. The brief will be similar to prior briefs submitted to federal courts of appeals in Zarda v. Altitude Express and Horton v. Midwest Geriatric Management, and to the Supreme Court in Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, all which presented the issue of whether Title VII prohibits sexual orientation discrimination in employment. The brief we plan to submit to the Supreme Court will be very similar in style and argument to these briefs.
BACKGROUND ON THE CASES
R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC and Aimee Stephens (gender identity and expression): Aimee Stephens worked as a funeral director at R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes. When she informed the funeral home’s owner that she is transgender, the owner fired her. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in March 2018 that when the funeral home fired her for being transgender and departing from sex stereotypes, it violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in employment. Aimee was the same capable employee she had always been, and she was fired because her employer wanted her to look and act “like a man.” That’s sex discrimination.
Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda (sexual orientation): Donald Zarda, a skydiving instructor, was fired from his job because of his sexual orientation. A federal trial court rejected his discrimination claim, saying that the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act did not protect him from losing his job for being a gay man. Tragically, in October 2014, Don died unexpectedly, but the case continues on behalf of his estate. In February 2018, the full Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that discrimination based on sexual orientation is a form of discrimination based on sex that is prohibited under Title VII. The court recognized that when a lesbian, gay, or bisexual person is treated differently because of discomfort or disapproval that they are attracted to people of the same sex, that’s discrimination based on sex.
Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga. (sexual orientation): Gerald Lynn Bostock was fired from his job as a county child welfare services coordinator when his employer learned he is gay. In May 2018, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals denied his appeal, refusing to reconsider a 1979 decision wrongly excluding sexual orientation discrimination from coverage under Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination.
PROCESS FOR JOINING THE BRIEF
There is no cost associated with signing the amicus brief. We are asking companies and industry associations to confirm their interest in joining the brief directly with their point of contact at Lambda Legal, Human Rights Campaign, Out Leadership, Freedom for All Americans, or Out & Equal.
We anticipate having a near-final draft for review of the brief ready by early June.
All signatories should fill out this form to confirm their signing-on, which among other things asks for the formal name of the entity that will join the brief, how the company’s name is to appear on the brief, and contact information.
Once conflict checks are completed, the signatories will confirm/sign a short engagement letter with either Quinn Emanuel or Robinson Curley that will be limited to their representation for this amicus brief.
The deadline for companies to sign on to the brief is Thursday June 27, 2019.
We thank you for your interest and consideration of this request, as well as your support for LGBT equality.