Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Fall 2019 SCOTUS in the Classroom Cases



We are pleased to offer resources on multiple cases for this fall's SCOTUS in the Classroom activities:

The important questions presented in these cases are: Does the term “sex” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which makes it unlawful for an employer to fire or refuse to hire an individual or to base their wages or benefits on the basis of their “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin”) include transgender status and sexual orientation?

All of these cases will be argued at the Court on October 8, 2019. Street Law will post case materials as they become available on the SCOTUS in the Classroom program page. Teachers and students are encouraged to hold moot courts (or mini-moot courts) of the cases during the same week that the Supreme Court hears arguments, giving students the opportunity to follow discussion and analysis in the news and listen to or read a transcript of the actual oral arguments at the Court. You can find instructions and handouts for conducting mini-moot courts and full moot courts on our SCOTUS in the Classroom page.


Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, and Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda

Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC and Aimee Stephens presents an opportunity to teach about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. You may also choose to incorporate discussions about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. 

In Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, a gay man named Gerald Bostock was employed by the Juvenile Court of Clayton County, Georgia. Bostock started to participate in a gay recreational softball league, and, several months later, he was fired for “conduct unbecoming of a county employee.”

In Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda, a gay man named Donald Zarda was working as a skydive instructor for Altitude Express. Due to the close physical proximity required for the tandem skydive, Zarda often told female customers that he was gay in order to prevent them from feeling uncomfortable. After being fired for allegedly touching a female customer inappropriately (accusations that he denied), he filed for unemployment benefits. In doing so he discovered that Altitude Express informed the New York Department of Labor that he had been fired “for shar[ing] inappropriate information with [customers] regarding his personal life,” not for the incident with the female customer.


R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Aimee Stephens

Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC and Aimee Stephens presents an opportunity to teach about the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, and the role of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You may also choose to incorporate discussions about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.    

Aimee Stephens (formerly Anthony Stephens) worked as an embalmer and funeral director at R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. in Michigan for almost six years. Stephens is a transgender woman. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes has a gender specific dress code that requires men to wear a suit and women to wear skirts or dresses at all times. For most of her time working for the funeral home, Stephens presented herself as a man and wore a suit. On July 31, 2013, she informed her employer that she was going to begin living openly as a woman and stated her intention to dress in “appropriate business attire” for women to meet the requirements of the funeral home’s female dress code. Two weeks later, the owner of the funeral home fired Stephens.


Learn more about Street Law's SCOTUS in the Classroom resources.

SCOTUS in the Classroom is made possible by the support of the Supreme Court Historical Society