NMU students respond to SCOTUS LGBTQ+ hearings

News

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WJMN)- The Supreme Court began its new term Tuesday with some controversial cases.

Three workplace discrimination lawsuits were heard by the judges to determine if an employer can fire an employee based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that federal law prohibits discrimination of sex, race, color, national origin and religion. A question that is being asked is whether federal law includes workspace protections for members of the LGBTQ+ community.

One of the cases being heard is about Aimee Stephens, a Michigan transgender woman, who claims she was fired from her job at a Livonia funeral home for not following the sex-based dress code.

Our D.C, Bureau reporter, Raquel Martin, spoke with the funeral home’s lawyer John Bursch before the hearings took place.

He said changing the definition of “sex” could cause serious harm.

“That decision to apply to sex-specific dress code based on the biological sex of his employees is completely in accord with federal law. It could hurt women and girls in athletics, and could impact people in bodily private spaces,” said Bursch, Bursch Law PLLC.

Justice Neil Gorsuch argues that the definition of “sex” in Title VII will cause problems.

“There would be a massive social upheaval if the court was to change or expand the definition of the word sex to include gender identity and sexual orientation,” Gorsuch said.

While the Supreme Court hearings continue to take place, Local 3 was able to speak with Henry Sale and Nat Ehrig, the co-presidents of Northern Michigan University’s Queers and Allies group. The group offers “social activities and a place for queers and allies to be able to openly express themselves in a relaxed and non-judgmental environment. “

They expressed their thoughts on the Supreme Court hearings, and what kind of impact this could leave on the LGBTQ+ community.

“The workplace can be very awful for queer people, and a lot of the times because there isn’t a lot that protects you, you can’t do much about it. If you go to HR what are they supposed to do for you? Tell the person to knock it off?” said Ehrig.

“Not all people go home to a welcoming environment, so they have to create their own […] most people spend the majority of their time at work, which consists of people who can not only judge you but impact your life in a major way,” said Sale.

The Supreme Court is not expected to make a decision on these hearings until next summer.

In the meantime, you can file a complaint or charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

For further information on the case hearings and what the justices’ have had to say so far, click here and here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Special Olympics: Athlete Spotlight

Special Olympics powerlifters get ready for competition

Thumbnail for the video titled "Special Olympics powerlifters get ready for competition"

Special Olympics Cross Country Skiing

Thumbnail for the video titled "Special Olympics Cross Country Skiing"

Special Olympics Basketball

Thumbnail for the video titled "Special Olympics Basketball"

Special Olympics Michigan Area 36 2020 U.P. Winter Games

Thumbnail for the video titled "Special Olympics Michigan Area 36 2020 U.P. Winter Games"

Special Olympics: Downhill Ski

Thumbnail for the video titled "Special Olympics: Downhill Ski"

Special Olympics Figure Skating

Thumbnail for the video titled "Special Olympics Figure Skating"

Polar Plunge for Special Olympics

Thumbnail for the video titled "Polar Plunge for Special Olympics"

Latest News Video

Boys and Girls Club of Marquette County fundraiser

Thumbnail for the video titled "Boys and Girls Club of Marquette County fundraiser"

HS Boys Basketball: Esky tops Westwood, Marquette cruises against Ishpeming

Thumbnail for the video titled "HS Boys Basketball: Esky tops Westwood, Marquette cruises against Ishpeming"

Girls HS Basketball: Miners, Vikings win big on home court

Thumbnail for the video titled "Girls HS Basketball: Miners, Vikings win big on home court"

LOCAL 3 WEDNESDAY EVENING WEATHER FORECAST 1/22/2020

Thumbnail for the video titled "LOCAL 3 WEDNESDAY EVENING WEATHER FORECAST 1/22/2020"

LOCAL 3 WEDNESDAY'S WEATHER FORECAST 1/22/2020

Thumbnail for the video titled "LOCAL 3 WEDNESDAY'S WEATHER FORECAST 1/22/2020"

LOCAL 3 TUESDAY OVERNIGHT WEATHER FORECAST 1/21/2020

Thumbnail for the video titled "LOCAL 3 TUESDAY OVERNIGHT WEATHER FORECAST 1/21/2020"