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Gay Workers Could
Benefit From High Court Ruling

Gay Workers Could
Benefit From High Court Ruling

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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that workers are protected from losing their jobs if they cooperate with internal investigations of sexual harassment.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that workers are protected from losing their jobs if they cooperate with internal investigations of sexual harassment.

Lower courts previously ruled that Vicky Crawford had not been protected under the federal retaliation law because she had not "initiated or instigated" the complaint but instead was asked to testify against Gene Hughes by her employer, the Nashville school district. Crawford told internal investigators that Hughes put his crotch against her office window and once pulled her head toward his groin, according to The Washington Post. While Hughes went unpunished, Crawford and two other women who testified against him were later fired for unrelated reasons.

James Essex of the American Civil Liberties Union said the ruling is crucial for all workers' rights but will be specifically helpful for LGBT employees.

"In some circumstances LGBT people are covered already by the federal law involved [Title VII of the Civil Rights Act], which bans sex discrimination in the workplace," Essex told Advocate.com Tuesday. "In situations where there are transgender people or gay people or nongay people who are departing from sex stereotypes and are penalized for speaking out -- if you're a worker and you say yeah, the boss was wrong here -- you're protected from being fired under this ruling."

Regarding the relationship between Title VII and the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban antigay discrimination in the workplace, Essex said, "We're all hoping that ENDA is going to pass sometime soon, and while ENDA doesn't necessarily amend Title VII, it's quite clear that if ENDA passes, Title VII is going to be applied pretty much lock, stock, and barrel for those provisions, including retaliation." (Rhiza Diizon and Michelle Garcia, Advocate.com)

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