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U.S. Supreme Court to hear LGBTQ discrimination cases

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For decades, people across the country, including many here in California, have fought for the right to work in peace -- free from discrimination, harassment and retaliation. One group has yet to receive these protections under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and that group consists of those in the LGBTQ community.

The prohibition of discriminating against someone due to his or her sex has yet to include gender identity and sexual orientation. Now, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear three cases surrounding this issue. If you are a member of this community, you already know that the decisions made by the court in these cases are vital to protecting your rights.

The issue

Members of the LGBTQ community continue to suffer discrimination in the workplace, and many feel as though it is okay and legal because the law does not yet include them under Title VII. For every five employees in this community, one of them experiences some form of discrimination. If you are transgender, your chances increase to one out of every three. In fact, approximately half of this country's states provide you no protection at all.

Even though California may provide some protection, your employer could still deny you a promotion, terminate your employment or discriminate against you in other ways. Until and unless the federal government provides you protection under Title VII, this type of discrimination could continue. Of course, a change in the law does not absolutely guarantee you won't suffer from these behaviors, but it would provide you with additional legal recourse.

The courts

More than likely, part of the reason the U.S. Supreme Court decided to take on this issue is due to the fact that lower federal courts remain divided on the issue. Some courts agree that the LGBTQ community deserves protection, but others do not. Moreover, lawmakers have yet to amend the law, and the current administration reportedly does not think it's necessary.

Depending on how the court rules, employment may not be the only area of your life affected. Title VII doesn't only apply to just the workplace but also to housing, education and other areas. For this reason, many people across the country will follow these three cases closely over the next year.

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