Anthony May discussed landmark LGBTQ+ civil rights win following Supreme Court’s 2020 ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County in recent article.

A landmark Brown, Goldstein & Levy civil rights win was the subject of a recent article discussing the application of a 2020 Supreme Court LGBTQ+ rights ruling on the interpretation of two state anti-discrimination statutes: The Maryland Fair Employment Practice Act (MFEPA) and the Maryland Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (MEPWA).

The Supreme Court case, Bostock v. Clayton County, held that employers prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sex under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are similarly prohibited from discriminating against employees because of their sexual orientation or transgender status.

In the wake of Bostock, BGL partner Eve Hill and attorneys Anthony May and Lauren DiMartino – along with co-counsel – filed suit on behalf of a married gay employee, “John Doe,” against his employer, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), that challenged CRS’s withdrawal of health insurance benefits for Mr. Doe’s lawfully-married husband. Mr. Doe alleges he began working for CRS after the organization promised its employee benefits covered all employee dependents, including same-sex spouses. CRS later reneged on that promise and canceled Mr. Doe’s husband’s insurance coverage because he and his husband are both men.

A 23-page decision made in August 2022 by U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake ruled in Mr. Doe’s favor under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Federal Equal Pay Act, , stating that religious organizations are not excused from anti-discrimination statutes. Despite a CRS argument that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) precludes enforcement of Title VII on CRS, the court held that RFRA does not apply between two private parties like Doe and CRS.

About the case, May told, “In our view, that was a huge win and one of the first cases post-Bostock that really kind of interpreted the Freedom of Restoration Act’s exemption since Bostock—which Bostock very clearly left open. In doing so, the court also examined our state law claims and had originally granted summary judgment on the Maryland Equal Pay Act claim, essentially applying Bostock and ruling discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is discrimination on the basis of sex. They are one part and the parcel, they are one in the same. You can’t have one without the other.”

In the coming months, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland will certify to the Supreme Court of Maryland two questions of law regarding the scope of MFEPA and MEPWA and whether state law similarly prohibits such discriminatory conduct on the basis of an employee’s sexual orientation.

May continued: “ [R]eligion has no place in employment decisions, particularly folks who are doing work for an organization that are trying to faithfully apply the organization’s mission but do not have any religious component to [their jobs]. Religion has no basis in those decisions as to whether somebody and their legally recognized spouse gets the same benefits that everybody else in the organization does.”

“I think we are very confident that the court’s going to get it right that there’s not, as CRS has claimed, this extremely broad exemption for religious employers [under state law] to simply discriminate on the basis of their religion for every single employee of a religious entity,” said May. “It would be inconsistent with federal law, which has the state law has always been interpreted similarly with, and it would be inconsistent with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights.”

Read the full article here.

Learn more about Anthony May here.