76 Major Businesses Urge U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Anti-Gay Discrimination Case

By Adam Polaski • October 11, 2017 • 10:59 am

Today more than 75 businesses signed onto an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court that argues Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should protect employees from workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The filing in Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital represents the largest number of businesses ever affirming in a brief that Title VII should be interpreted to include protections for discrimination based on sexual orientation. Lambda Legal is representing Jameka Evans in the case. Evans worked as a Georgia security guard, but she faced harassment and eventually was forced to leave her job because of her sexual orientation.

Read the full brief of 76 companies here.

Freedom for All Americans is proud to have worked with Lambda Legal, Out Leadership, and the Human Rights Campaign on outreach to businesses, asking them to make their voices loud and clear to the U.S. Supreme Court. Signers to the brief include AirBnB, Apple, Ben & Jerry’s, Carnival Corporation, Deutsche Bank, Eastern Bank, Google, Levi Strauss & Co., LinkedIn, Lyft, Mastercard, Miami HEAT, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, PayPal, RBC Bank, Salesforce, Starbucks, Tampa Bay Rays, Trillium Asset Management, and Viacom. A full list of signers is available here.

Anna Walker, Senior Director for Global Policy and Advocacy at Levi Strauss & Co., said:

“We believe in treating every person we come into contact with – whether it’s our employees, our consumers, or our vendors – with dignity and respect. That value is central to our business – but more importantly, it’s the right thing to do. Discrimination hurts people, holds back communities, and tarnishes our nation’s image. We’ve long made nondiscrimination a bedrock value of our corporate culture, and we’re proud to support those same values in our legislatures, in the halls of Congress, and before the nation’s highest court.”

Eric Woolworth, Miami HEAT President, said:

“The HEAT are long-time supporters of equality for LGBTQ Floridians, and it’s for a very simple reason: we believe the diversity of our communities makes us stronger. There’s no excuse for discrimination of any kind. We’ll continue to promote values of inclusion, respect, and equality – and we’ll continue standing up and speaking out when we see others in need. It’s long past time to ensure our state and national laws protect LGBTQ people from harassment and discrimination.”

This is the second time this year businesses have affirmed that Title VII protects employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation. Earlier this year, more than 50 businesses signed a first-of-its kind brief asserting that legal position in Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., a workplace discrimination case that was heard en banc before the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals last month.

John Eydenberg, Vice Chairman, Corporate & Investment Bank Americas and Chair of the Deutsche Bank US Diversity & Inclusion Council, said:

“Diversity and inclusion are central to Deutsche Bank’s values. We are proud to support this effort to ensure that all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, are treated fairly and equally under the law.”

The brief notes:

“Employment discrimination based on sexual orientation (a form of sex-based discrimination) is widespread and has significant, harmful effects on employers, employees, and the bottom line.  As of 2016, approximately 10 million adults in the United States (4.1% of all adults) identify as LGBT. By any measure, the LGBT segment of the U.S. workforce represents a significant number of both public- and private-sector employees.  Businesses draw on and benefit from the contributions of LGBT workers at all levels and across industries.

“…. Amici recognize that their employees are essential to their success and are, in many ways, their most valuable assets.  Accordingly, amici are strong proponents of anti-discrimination laws and policies, which are linked to higher morale and productivity.”

A district court in Georgia and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals have not ruled in Jameka’s favor – rulings that stand in contrast to growing legal precedent surrounding Title VII nondiscrimination protections. In addition to the Zarda case in the 2nd Circuit, in April of this year the entire 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Kimberly Hively, who was fired from her job as a teacher because she is a lesbian; and reversed that court’s prior precedent that Title VII did not protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Below is the full list of businesses who signed onto this important brief:

AdRoll, Inc.
Affirm, Inc.
Airbnb, Inc.
American Airlines
BASF Corporation
Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc.
Caldwell Partners
Carnival Corporation
CBS Corporation
Celtra Inc.
Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company
Citrix Systems, Inc.
City National Bank
Coach, Inc.

Cornerstone Capital Inc.

Deutsche Bank
Diageo North America, Inc.
DoorDash, Inc.
Dropbox, Inc.
Eastern Bank
eBay Inc.
The Estée Lauder Companies
Facebook, Inc.
FiftyThree, Inc.
General Assembly
Google LLC
Intel Corporation
Levi Strauss & Co.
Linden Lab
Lyft, Inc.
Mastercard International Inc.
Match Group, Inc.
Miami HEAT
Microsoft Corporation
Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
Morgan Stanley
National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC)
OBOX Solutions
On Top of the World Communities, Inc.
Out Leadership
PayPal Holdings, Inc.
RBC Bank (Georgia), N.A.
RBC Capital Markets, LLC
RealNetworks, Inc.
Replacements, Ltd.
Rhapsody International Inc. d/b/a Napster
Rising Tide Brewing Company
Royal Bank of Canada
salesforce.com, inc.
Shutterstock, Inc.
Spotify USA Inc.
Starbucks Corporation
Sun Life Financial (U.S.)
Services Company, Inc.
Tampa Bay Rays Baseball Ltd.
Thumbtack, Inc.
Trillium Asset Management
Uber Technologies, Inc.
Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Inc.
Viacom Inc.; Weebly, Inc.
Witeck Communications.

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