The U.S. LGBT Plus rights and interests have written a new chapter, and companies may not fire or punish employees for reasons such as gender and sexual orientation. So back in Taiwan, is our business ready?

"Today, we have to decide whether a company can fire an employee because he is gay or transgender, and the answer is obvious. 」

On the 16th, taiwan time, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it would protect the right to work for the LGBT-plus community from discrimination. In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to include LGBT-plus work rights in section 7 of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, meaning that future employers should not discipline, dismiss or reject employees because of gender identity or discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The ruling is considered a historic moment as the law affects thousands of businesses in the United States, and an estimated 8.1 million U.S. LGBT-plus employees are protected and granted their right to work.

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch said in his ruling that in the same action, if heterosexuals would not be challenged by the same LGBT-plus, businesses should not be expelled from the gay or transgender community. Gender is a key factor in the overall decision-making, which is what Section VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 wants to prohibit. (Extended reading: Marriage equal rights, what about the workplace? "Same marriage through!" Do gay employees dare to come out? Report results available)

You're being fired not because of bad results, but because of sexual orientation/gender identity.

In the past, many employees in the United States have been dismissed by companies for no reason because of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The most famous case was the dismissal of a child-welfare coordinator in Clayton County named Gerald Bostock. According to the Washington Post , he is primarily responsible for seeking resources for abused children in the courts , and he excels and breaks organizational milestones in his personal performance . But in 2013, he was asked to leave the company because he was on the gay softball team because he lost his livelihood and health insurance, putting his life at risk while he was being treated for cancer.

Another case is Aimee E Stephens, who works at a funeral home. According to the New Yorker, Aimee Stephens, whose gender identity is female, has been plagued by the gender identity tag, and at the age of 51, she was in pain for her gender identity and attempted suicide. Within two weeks of the letter being sent out, she was fired by her boss.

Both employees eventually filed a lawsuit in court, alleging that the employer violated Section 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because of sexual/gender misconduct against the employee. To this day, Aimee Stephens died in May after the U.S. Supreme Court announced that the right to work for LGBT-plus would be included in the law.

Aimee Stephens died in May 2020. Photo credit for Dazhi Images (Reuters)

What is the scope of the "gender( " protection?

The extent of the protection referred to by "gender" has been a point of social debate until the Supreme Court's decision became public.

In previous cases where LGBT-plus work rights have been denied, article 7 of the Civil Rights Act has been cited to prohibit discrimination based on factors such as sex, race, national origin, color, religion, etc. In the above-mentioned gerald Bostock and Aimee Stephens cases, however, employer lawyers argued that "gender" could not be used in all sexually related states, and that the "gender" referred to in article 7 of the Civil Rights Act was "physical sex" and different from sexual orientation and sexual orientation. In other words, discrimination is justified when an employer dismisses or punishes an employee because of male/female characteristics, but homosexuality, transgender people, etc. are not within the "gender" range.

In this regard, there are also voices arguing that judges have long used the definition of "gender" in various states. According to NPR , lawyers representing fired employees say the U.S. Supreme Court has widely used the definition of "gender" in various decisions over the past half century . Pamela Karlan, a professor at Stanford University School of Law, cites sexual harassment as an example, saying that in 1964 you couldn't find a definition of sexual harassment in the dictionary, but the Supreme Court had cited Section 7 of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits sexual harassment between women and men.

According to previous cases, the definition of "gender" has in fact covered the various orientations. As the rights and interests of LGBT-plus become increasingly popular, the communities covered by the law are more likely to cover multiple genders and sexual orientations.

Photo credit for Dazhi Images (Reuters)

Is our business ready for the United States to Taiwan?

Back in Taiwan, our society has taken a big step forward with the passage of the Same Marriage Act in 2019, but LGBT plus still faces obstacles in the workplace and in life, especially when society focuses on transgender people (Transgender), their voices are harder to hear.

In a survey conducted this year by the Taiwan Partnership for Partnerships, 55.41 percent of 518 transgender people in Taiwan are afraid to go to the bathroom because of social vision and discrimination. 75.3 percent of transgender students and 70 percent of transgender workers choose not to deal with unkindness at work or school. The potential problem behind this is that transgender people lack legal assistance, so when discrimination occurs, they can't trust the system to do so. (Extended Reading:"I speak here today, very lucky" Is Taiwan Asia's most LGBT-friendly? Look at the status of transgender people)

The historic step in the U.S. may also serve as a reminder to Taiwan that even if the law fails to respond, companies can start from within and add more gender-friendly policies, such as more convenience for same-sex and transgender people.

Transgender people, for example, are often turned down when applying for information or participating in events because the gender on their ID card does not match their gender identity. According to Yu Yu, a transgender woman interviewed, in Taiwan, First Bank is currently the only bank that allows customers to customize their titles, and only needs to call notice to correct the title on their bills, allowing transgender people to get the respect they deserve and to avoid their gender identity being made public.

These details of the enterprise are designed to make the multi-gender community feel respected, Yu said.

As we cheer the progress of LGBT-plus rights in the United States, we may as well think, how can Taiwan do better?