I’m about to start my 34th year in practice, the bulk of which has been spent representing individuals asserting employment related claims against their employers. To say that I have seen the law evolve during this time span is an understatement. When I began my practice in 1986, there was no such thing as a jury trial in claims of sexual harassment, gender and race discrimination. Disability, was not a protected class. Texas didn’t have a parallel statute to protect employment discrimination. Things have progressively changed for the better. Sexual discrimination claims have expanded to include “same sex” sexual harassment, the right to a trial by jury is inviolate and disability discrimination laws have been written and re-written to inclusively protect employees who are victimized.
To say that I was concerned as to what might have come in the Bostock case, before the United States Supreme Court, that determined the rights of LGBTQ employees to have a remedy for employment discrimination, is a bit of an understatement. I was cautiously optimistic that when Justice Kennedy retired, Chief Justice Roberts would assume the role of the “swing” vote but I had no clue what would happen past that. I was firmly personally convinced that the LGBTQ workforce was intended to be covered by the drafters of Title VII when it was drafted as it was clearly an all-inclusive statute. That didn’t necessarily mean that the composition of this Supreme Court would be in accord.
I was pleasantly surprised when Justice Gorsuch joined the majority resulting in a 6-3 decision. When I read through the opinion I was less surprised. He did what a competent Supreme Court Justice (or any federal judge for that matter) should do. He put personal views aside and followed the law. One line from the 163-page opinion says it best in my view. “Only the written word is the law, and all persons are entitled to its benefit.”
This is not a monumental decision only for the LGBTQ workforce but in the broader spectrum, as we as a society are in the process of wading through some very troubled times, it is a decision that will go down in history for its unequivocal unifying effect.