Jefferson City, Mo. –  The National Women’s Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and several advocacy groups filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of two state of Missouri employees claiming the right to be protected against sex discrimination.

The case has been brought on behalf of Harold Lampley and Rene Frost, who filed an anti-discrimination charge with the Missouri Human Rights Commission claiming discrimination because of sex. The commission refused to investigate because Lampley is gay. Frost and Lampley continued their fight to have courts recognize that sex-stereotyping is discrimination prohibited by Missouri law.

The Western District Court of Appeals agreed with Lampley and Frost. In an October decision, the court recognized for the first time that Missouri law prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of an employee’s failure to conform to sex-based stereotypes, which brings Missouri in line with federal employment law and the legal protections offered in most states.

The Missouri Supreme Court agreed to consider the case, and will hear arguments on April 25 in Jefferson City.

Joining the amicus brief filed in the Missouri Supreme Court were 9to5, National Association for Working Women, A Better Balance, California Women’s Law Center, Equal Rights Advocates, Feminist Majority Foundation, Gender Justice, Legal Voice, National Organization for Women Foundation, National Partnership for Women & Families, Southwest Women’s Law Center, Women Employed, Women’s Law Center of Maryland, and Women’s Law Project, along with NWLC and ACLU.

The ACLU also filed a second joint friend-of-the-court brief today, with the Transgender Law Center,  in RMA v. Blue Springs--which the Missouri Supreme Court will also hear on April 25—on the question of whether the Missouri Human Rights Act’s sex provision covers gender identity.

The Supreme Court of the United States has concluded that sex discrimination occurs whenever an employer takes an employee’s sex into account when making an adverse employment decision. Courts have applied this principle to countless forms of employer bias, from cases involving a ban on hiring mothers of preschool-aged children to bias against Asian-American women to the failure to promote a Big Eight accounting firm partnership candidate because she was “macho.” Time and again, courts have refused to allow generalizations about men and women—or about certain types of men and women—to play any role in employment decisions. Generalizations about men and women because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender are impermissible discrimination “because of sex.” 

On Monday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that federal law against sex discrimination covers lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.

National Women’s Law Center Vice President for Education and Workplace Justice Emily Martin said, “Discrimination against trans students is sex discrimination, plain and simple. Too often, policymakers pretend they are protecting women when they attack the rights of trans people, but they are in fact just relying on sexist, archaic thinking. Our struggles are all intertwined.”

ACLU LGBT & HIV Project Staff Attorney Ria Tabacco Mar said, “Discrimination based on how we express our gender is based on outdated stereotypes, just like discrimination based on how men and women should dress or act.  That is unlawful sex-based stereotyping.  Sex-based discrimination has no place at work or at school, as plaintiffs Harold Lampley and R.M.A. know all too well.  We urge the Missouri Supreme Court to take this opportunity to recognize that sex discrimination includes discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

ACLU of Missouri Legal Director Tony Rothert said, “The Missouri Supreme Court should join the emerging consensus across the nation that sex anti-discrimination laws apply to LGBTQ people too.”

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