Aveda Adara, a 41-year-old transgender woman, said the mistreatment she faced due to her gender identity led her to quit her job at a major health care company just outside Houston, Texas. “I was constantly misgendered by managers, supervisors and employees,” Adara told NBC News. “My own manager would routinely discriminate against me, and nit pick and micromanage me.”
Eventually, she found two part-time jobs to make ends meet, but these positions do not provide any benefits. Employment discrimination, however, is nothing new to Adara. “I’ve been laughed out of interviews for so many years,” she said.
“I live in Texas, and there are no laws in Texas that protect people like me,” she added. “I can be fired for being who I am.”
While 20 states and the District of Columbia have laws explicitly banning workplace discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, federal civil rights law is less clear. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 “prohibits employment discrimination based on … sex,” but whether “sex” discrimination in this context is inclusive of anti-LGBTQ discrimination is at the center of three cases before the Supreme Court.
The high court will hear oral arguments in these cases on Tuesday, and its decision — expected in the spring or summer of 2020 — could have a dramatic impact on LGBTQ workers’ rights. One case, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, marks the first time a transgender civil rights case has come before the Supreme Court. Trans workers across the country, including Adara, will be watching the case closely.