Nearly 50 Businesses Urge the 8th Circuit to Rule Against Employment Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation

By Adam Polaski • March 14, 2018 • 4:00 pm

In a new “friend-of-the-court” brief to the United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, forty-seven businesses are speaking up for workers who face employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. The legal brief, which features voices like AirBnB, Morgan Stanley, Dropbox, PayPal, Viacom, and Microsoft, is submitted in Horton v. Midwest Geriatric Management.

Freedom for All Americans Education Fund is proud to sign alongside these businesses, including Diversified Health & Wellness, a member of our Small Businesses Against LGBTQ Discrimination coalition. Special thanks to PROMO in Missouri for joining with us, Lambda Legal, and the Human Rights Campaign on outreach for the brief.

Click here to read the brief.

The brief says, in part: “The  47  businesses  and  organizations  that  join  this brief  share  an  interest  in equality because they know that ending discrimination in the workplace is good for business,  their  employees,  and  the  U.S.  economy  as a  whole.    The  below businesses and organizations are committed to giving everyone the opportunity to earn a living, excel in their profession, and provide for their family free from fear of unequal treatment.

Anna Walker, senior director of policy and advocacy at Levi Strauss & Co. explained why Levi Strauss & Co. proudly signed onto the amicus brief:

“Levi Strauss & Co. will always stand up for equality and inclusivity in our workplaces and communities. It is not only good for business – it is simply the right thing to do. The strength of this company is based on the diversity of the incredible people who work for us. We must be welcoming for all people, regardless of race, sex, national origin, ethnicity, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity, or we erode our ability to foster a vibrant, competitive workforce.”

The case centers on Mark Horton, a gay man with many years of experience in health management who was offered a job at Midwest Geriatric Management until the offer was rescinded when the company learned that Horton is gay.

Lambda Legal, which is litigating the case, makes the case that discrimination based on sexual orientation violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on sex. A federal judge previously ruled against Horton in the case, pointing to standing precedent in the 8th Circuit set in 1989.

In the past year Freedom for All Americans has collaborated with Lambda Legal on outreach for three “friend-of-the-court” briefs featuring the voices of employers and business leaders. In June we led outreach efforts for a first-of-its-kind amicus brief in Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc. that featured 50 employers. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling in the Zarda case just a few weeks, declaring that Title VII prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. We also contributed to efforts on a brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court, encouraging the high court to grant review to Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, featuring 76 businesses.

Clearly, momentum for LGBT non-discrimination is building and picking up steam. As Freedom for All Americans continues to pursue opportunities to advance legislation at the local, state, and federal level, we also applaud our indispensable legal partners for their work in the courts. This movement in the courts builds undeniable momentum toward federal resolution and provides critical education opportunities to help more Americans understand the need for non-discrimination. Together, with the strategies of securing court wins and encouraging policymakers to take action on inclusive laws, we can protect more people as quickly as possible and ensure that no one faces discrimination because of who they are or who they love, in any aspect of their daily lives.

Learn more about how businesses are expressing support for LGBTQ non-discrimination, and click here for the latest on LGBTQ discrimination in the courts with our Litigation Tracker.

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