Advocacy Update

June 19, 2020: Judicial Advocacy Update


In a decision combining three separate cases, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the protections against sex discrimination in the workplace contained in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act apply to employees in the LGBTQ+ community.

Standing for physicians

The AMA Litigation Center is the strongest voice for America's medical profession in legal proceedings across the country.

"Held: An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII," the ruling states, noting that the Civil Right Act made it "unlawful … for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual … because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin."

This was the result sought by the AMA Litigation Center, American College of Physicians, Medical Association of Georgia, Michigan State Medical Society and other medical, mental health and health care organizations in a joint amicus brief in the Supreme Court (PDF) filed last July.

"The AMA joined 15 other leading health organizations in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court, urging it to confirm that discrimination protections under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 cover sexual orientation and gender identity," said AMA President Susan R. Bailey, MD. "We know that discrimination reinforces stigma and can have significant adverse mental and physical health outcomes. We are pleased the Supreme Court also recognized this fact."

The court ruled that Title VII is violated when an employer fires an employee because of their sexual orientation or gender identity because this type of discrimination "requires an employer to intentionally treat individual employees differently because of their sex."

The ruling comes on the heels of a final federal rule released last week HHS (see above story in the National section) that reversed a policy that had banned health care providers from discriminating against LGBTQ patients, women and others.

Read the full article.

Statement from AMA President Susan R. Bailey, MD, on the recent Supreme Court decision involving the Trump Administrations attempted rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

"The American Medical Association applauds today's U.S. Supreme Court decision finding that the Trump Administration's attempted rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was inadequate and invalid.

"Amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has underscored physician shortages and surging caseloads, DACA recipients have responded to the call by continuing to provide vital patient care. We are pleased that the Supreme Court has recognized that upholding a rollback of the DACA program would have reduced our nation's health care capacity at a time when we can ill afford it.

"The AMA has opposed the administration's decision to end the DACA program since it was announced in 2017, joining 32 other leading health organizations in an amicus brief (PDF) to the Supreme Court in support of shielding individuals protected by the DACA program – including the nearly 30,000 DACA recipients who work as health care professionals across the U.S. We believe that the administration's attempt to terminate the DACA program ignored these individuals' enormous contributions to our country.

"Our country relies on the skills and experiences of the hundreds of active physicians, plus medical students and residents who depend on DACA for their eligibility to study, practice medicine and fill crucial gaps in patient care. During their careers, these highly skilled clinicians will care for and improve the lives of millions of Americans while helping to fulfill our goal of a diverse health care workforce that reflects the demographics of the patients we serve."