The United States Supreme Court has ruled a longstanding workplace anti-discrimination law also protects LGBTIQ employee, the ABC reports.
The ruling defeats the Trump Administration’s push to allow employers to discriminate against queer workers.
In a 6-3 ruling, it is the biggest moment for LGBTIQ rights since the court ruled same-sex marriage legal in 2015.
Two conservative justices joined the court’s four liberals in the decision: Neil Gorsuch, a 2017 Trump administration appointee who wrote the ruling, and Chief Justice John Roberts.
The justices decided that LGBTIQ people are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex as well as race, colour, national origin and religion.
Across much of the United States there has been bias against workplace protections for the LGBTIQ community with 28 states not providing comprehensive protections for queer workers.
“The Supreme Court’s historic decision affirms what shouldn’t have even been a debate: LGBTQ Americans should be able to work without fear of losing jobs because of who they are,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president of gay rights group GLAAD.
The ruling, which involved two gay rights cases from Georgia and New York and a transgender rights case from Michigan, recognises new worker protections in federal law.
The legal fight was based on the definition of “sex” in Title VII, with large corporations, and civil rights group arguing discriminating against gay and transgender workers was inherently based on their sex and consequently was illegal.
Mr Trump’s administration had backed the employers who were sued for discrimination. The administration and the employers argued that Congress did not intend for Title VII to protect gay and transgender people when it passed the law.
While Justice Gorsuch conceded the point in his opinion but said what mattered was the text of the law.
“An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex,” Gorsuch wrote.
“Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids,” Gorsuch wrote.
Conservative Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh dissented from the ruling. Writing in dissent, Justice Alito said the court had basically rewritten the law.