PA backs brief urging SCOTUS to rule on LGBT nondiscrimination

Pennsylvania is among the states calling on the nation’s top court to weigh in on whether sexual orientation is protected by current federal law.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro on Thursday signed onto a friend-of-the-court brief that urges the U.S. Supreme Court to accept a case filed by Lambda Legal on behalf of Georgia woman Jameka Evans. Evans, a lesbian, contends she was harassed and forced out of her job as a security guard because of anti-LGBT animus. 

Lambda Legal is arguing that the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s prohibition on sex discrimination extends to sexual orientation. Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week issued guidance that the law does not protect workers based on gender identity and has previously taken the position that sexual orientation is not protected either, both of which are deviations from the previous administration’s stances. 

Pennsylvania joined 16 other states, including Maryland and Delaware, on the brief, along with the District of Columbia.

“We are grateful that so many attorneys general have joined the mighty chorus calling for the Supreme Court to review Jameka’s case and protect LGBT people from discrimination at work,” said Greg Nevins, Employment Fairness Project director for Lambda Legal. “Just like the patchwork of state laws concerning marriage equality before the Supreme Court’s historic decision in Obergefell, having rights as a gay employee in the state where you live can still leave you unprotected if your job is right across the boundary in a state where there are no protections. Title VII plays a crucial complementary role by covering individuals not subject to a state’s laws.”

Pennsylvania remains the only state in the Northeast that does not have a statewide law banning LGBT discrimination.