PISCATAWAY, N.J. (June 19, 2020) – The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Trump administration’s efforts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Earlier in the week, the Court ruled employers cannot discriminate against workers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. James M. Cooney, Esq., a labor and employment law expert in the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations, is available for interviews about aspects of the rulings that may be overlooked.
Are all LGBTQ workers protected by the Title VII decision?
Cooney: “No. Title VII applies only to employers with 15 or more employees. If your employer has fewer than 15 employees, and you work in a jurisdiction with no state or local law protecting LGBTQ workers, you still have no legal remedy. This is an important point.”
What if your employer meets the threshold of 15 employees and still wants to fire you for being gay?
Cooney: “Unfortunately, an employer can always assert phony or pre-textual reasons to support a termination. The burden of proof is on the worker to establish that unlawful discrimination was a motivation for the firing. This is true even in cases involving hidden bias.”
Does the DACA ruling mean that Dreamers are out of the woods?
Cooney: “The Court's ruling provides only temporary relief. Legislation is ultimately needed to provide lawful status to persons covered by DACA. Therefore, the November elections will be critical. If Democrats take control of both Congress and the White House, comprehensive immigration reform would almost certainly be enacted. But if the current administration remains in office, DACA could be on the chopping block again.”
President Trump has referred to some Dreamers as “criminals.” Does that hold water?
Cooney: “No. A person is not eligible for DACA if convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanor. President Trump's statement that ‘some are very tough, hardened criminals’ is patently false.”
Two conservative justices wrote the majority opinions in these cases. Should we read into that?
Cooney: “Sometimes, decision-writing assignments are dangled as a carrot to obtain a justice’s vote. For example, the four liberal justices who joined the majority in the DACA case may have asked Chief Justice Roberts to author the opinion in order to secure his vote. It’s hard to say if that happened with these cases.”
Steve Flamisch, Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations
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