LGBTQ Individuals Get Protection on the Job, But Not for Healthcare

The U.S. Supreme Court this week ruled that existing federal law forbids job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation of transgender status. The ruling will affect LGBTQ workers across the country, because most states don’t provide protections from workplace discrimination. However, that decision followed a federal announcement stripping transgender health protections from the Affordable Care Act.  

The Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate based on a person’s sex, also applies to sexual orientation and transgender status. The ruling upholds rulings from lower courts that said sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination.

LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said the organization is committed to building strong, inclusive community workforces. “We applaud the Supreme Court’s ruling that extends the scope of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to protect all employees, including those who are gay and transgender,” Sloan told McKnight’s Senior Living.

In a separate decision, HHS said it will enforce sex discrimination protections according to the “plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology.”

The rule focuses on nondiscrimination protections laid out in Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which prevents discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. It removes the definitions section of the prior rule, eliminating key terms including “on the basis of sex,” “covered entity,” “sex stereotypes” and “gender identity.” The HHS final rule applies to any health program or activity — any part of which received Medicare or Medicaid dollars.

The decision to eliminate protections for transgender patients spurred several members of Congress to commit overturning this discriminatory policy.

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