Supreme Court to decide if civil rights laws protect LGBT people from discrimination in employment

Local News

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) — The U.S. Supreme Court is weighing whether LGBTQ workers are protected from discrimination.

It’s the first time a transgender civil-rights case is going before the nation’s highest court. Justices are divided on LGBTQ rights with two new Trump appointed conservative justices on the bench the country is watching to see how Brett Kavanaugh will respond and if Neil Gorsuch will be the swing vote towards equal rights.

One of Tuesday’s cases heard by the high court was that of Amiee Stephens. Stephens says once she revealed plans to transition from a male to female she was fired from her job as a funeral director in Detroit.

“Here I put the time in,” said Stephens. “Done my job and did it very well. And now all of a sudden they don’t need me anymore.”

The funeral home says it was Stephens’ non-compliance with the dress code for men as their reason for firing Stephens.

Memphian Chris Freitas is also transitioning from a male to female.

“I’m deeply concerned about where this might go, especially when it comes to trans people,” said Freitas.    

Freitas says while her employer has been receptive to her plans she’s seen other transgender women lose jobs and even homes.

“They’re a group of folks who have had the most discrimination in the workplace,” said Freitas.

Justices also heard two seperate cases today of gay men both who say they were fired from their jobs as a skydiving instructor and a county administrator because they were gay. Tuesday’s hearing will have far reaching effects on the entire LGBTQ community and Freitas will be watching to see their outcomes, possibly in the summer of 2020.

“Thankfully at least the cases are now being heard because it’s taken way too long for it even come up for discussion,” said Freitas.

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