Muskat Devine Partner Corey Devine Quoted in Bloomberg Law Article on Federal Appeals Court Decision on LGBT Worker Rights

Muskat Devine Partner Corey Devine has been featured in a Bloomberg Law article about the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s recent decision regarding the rights of LGBT employees.

On June 20, the court affirmed a district court order allowing religious for-profit employers an exemption from anti-discrimination protections for LGBT workers first recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2020 landmark case Bostock v. Clayton County.

In Bostock, the U.S. Supreme Court said that gay and transgender workers can sue employers for bias under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

In response, Texas healthcare provider Braidwood Management Inc. and Texas church Bear Creek Bible Church sued, claiming Title VII as interpreted by Bostock and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission violated their religious liberty by preventing them from operating in accordance with what they believe the Bible teaches about homosexuality.

The Fifth Circuit found that the Supreme Court decision in Bostock doesn’t apply to these religious employers, saying Title VII and EEOC guidance would “substantially burden” their ability to operate in accordance with their religious beliefs.

Mr. Devine told Bloomberg Law that the decision “leaves so much open that I’m not sure it advances the ball on helping employers understand what the rules of the road are.” For example, the Fifth Circuit did not explain what a private, for-profit employer must show to establish that it is a religious employer exempt from Title VII.

The article goes on to discuss a potential future battle over the interplay between Title VII and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, which was key to the Fifth Circuit in its ruling. Until these disputes are resolved, likely by the U.S. Supreme Court, experts agreed tensions will remain over religious liberty and LGBT rights in the workplace.

“This decision is focused on an employer who’s extreme with its views. I think the average employer has employees on both sides of the spectrum, so figuring out how to manage workplace tension and keep people working together productively is a tough problem to solve,” said Mr. Devine. “There’s no easy answer.”

The case is Braidwood Management, Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

To read the full article, click here.