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Wade v. Starbucks

GLAD joined a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Fifth Appellate District in California to reverse a trial court ruling against a former Starbucks employee Maddie Wade. Learn more from Lambda Legal and read our amicus brief here.

Murphy v. Twitter

GLAD, together with NCLR, Lamda Legal, Transgender Law Center, and HRC, submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in this case to support a provider’s ability to create and enforce policies against online abuse and harassment. The brief highlights the importance of policies that protect transgender people from abuse and harassment, including policies that prohibit the intentional misuse of a trans person’s name and pronouns.

From the brief:

“Online communities play a critically important role in enabling transgender people to connect with one another, build networks and communities, and participate in public debate and discussion. However, transgender people also often face disproportionate abuse and harassment online, including hate speech, slurs, and targeted efforts by other users to disparage their identity, experience, and existence as transgender individuals by deliberately assigning them the wrong gender or name—forms of verbal harassment sometimes referred to as “misgendering” and “deadnaming,” respectively, including in Twitter’s user code of conduct at issue in this case. The prevalence and severity of such abuse can substantially impair transgender people’s ability to access online spaces and communities, denigrates their identity, and in some cases can be associated with adverse mental health outcomes; it can also adversely affect the vibrancy of online communities themselves, by depriving those communities of full and open participation of transgender users, who may feel reluctant to speak up or engage in discussions for fear of attracting such abuse. Service providers have valid and well-founded interests, as expressed in Twitter’s own policy, in having rules that foster greater participation. And policies by social media companies that prohibit the use of their online platforms to target and denigrate other users on the basis of their gender identity—provided they can be meaningfully enforced when necessary—play an important role in ensuring that such spaces are available for transgender people to express themselves freely.

Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru and St. James School v. Biel

GLAD has signed onto a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the The National Women’s Law Center, along with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Kevin Russell of Goldstein & Russell, P.C., and 67 additional organizations, with the U.S. Supreme Court on March 11, 2020 in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru and St. James School v. Biel (consolidated).

At stake in these cases is the scope of a doctrine called the “ministerial exception.” This exception was originally created to allow houses of worship to hire and fire ministers without court involvement. But now religious employers—in these cases, Catholic schools—are trying to use this theory to deny civil rights protections to their lay employees.

Here, one schoolteacher, Ms. Biel brought a disability discrimination claim against her school, and in the other case, Ms. Morrissey-Berru brought an age discrimination claim against her school. But both teachers were denied their civil rights when the schools claimed they were “ministers.”

This brief was filed in support of these two schoolteachers, and all the other teachers and staff at religious schools who could be denied their civil rights in the workplace if the U.S. Supreme Court expands this exception.

The brief addresses how religious employers are using this exception to try to deny workplace rights, including protections against sexual harassment, unequal pay, disability discrimination, and claims for overtime pay. Alarmingly, employees have no way of knowing if they are being considered ministers by their employers until after they have faced discrimination and try to bring civil rights claims. If the Court expands the ministerial exception as requested by the religious employers in these cases, it would cause enormous harm to women, people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, older workers, LGBTQ workers, and others who face multiple and intertwining forms of discrimination.

Participating organizations urge the Court to reject these attempts to expand the ministerial exception and instead, rule in a manner that allows teachers and other employees at religious schools to retain their critical workplace civil rights protections.

Protecting Title X-Funded Medical Centers

GLAD has joined an amicus brief supporting lawsuits against new regulations that directly restrict and control the type of medical care and counseling patients receive at Title X-funded family planning and reproductive health centers.

Excerpts from the brief:

Certain groups encounter obstacles to obtaining health care in the United States. Women seeking reproductive health care, as well as others who are members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community, historically have struggled to access essential health care services because of stigma arising from social and political beliefs about sex, gender roles, and childbearing. For LGBTQ people in particular, this stigma, and its detrimental effect on access to basic health care, have led to significant health disparities compared to other populations. Some providers of reproductive health care, including Planned Parenthood affiliates and other Title X grantees, are significantly ameliorating these disparities by providing essential health care to the LGBTQ community. The Department of Health and Human Services’s Final Rule threatens this access to basic health care for many LGBTQ people. The Final Rule should be enjoined, not only because it is contrary to law, but also because it would cause irreparable harm to LGBTQ people. The Final Rule would eliminate health care providers essential to the LGBTQ community, increase health care disparities for LGBTQ people, and violate the equal dignity of Title X patients.

This case concerns recently issued regulations from the Department of Health and Human Services (the Department). The district court found that provisions of the Final Rule (DHHS’ new regulations) violate the statutes they purport to implement. First, the district court found that the Gag Rule, which forces medical providers in the Title X family planning program to direct individuals away from obtaining an abortion, violates a statutory provision requiring that all pregnancy counseling be “nondirective.”

Second, the district court found that the physical and financial Separation Requirements, which penalize Title X projects that also provide abortion care, violate a provision in the Affordable Care Act barring the Department from issuing any regulations that create barriers to appropriate medical care or interfere with communications regarding a full range of treatment options between patient and provider.

But the Final Rule does more than violate the law. In addition to these legal violations and the irreparable harms the district court identified, the Final Rule’s restrictions will drive qualified providers from a program designed for underserved communities and will exacerbate the serious health disparities LGBTQ people already experience. Those additional, irreparable harms support an injunction barring the Final Rule from taking effect.

Quine v. CDCR

GLAD and other LGBTQ legal organizations joined an amicus brief in Quine v. CDCR, urging the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to hold that transgender status warrants strict scrutiny.