WASHINGTON — Following the Supreme Court’s landmark civil rights ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, the American Lawyer highlighted an amicus brief filed by Wilkinson Stekloff litigators Chanakya Sethi, Angela Cai, and Rakesh Kilaru.
The ruling was a major victory for LGBT employees, recognizing that they are protected under the 1964 Civil Rights Act from employment discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. AmLaw quoted Wilkinson Stekloff’s brief, featuring it among “a stellar crop of briefs from many of the top law firms in the country.”
Wilkinson Stekloff filed the brief on behalf of a group of nine leading historians who focus on the history of gender, sexuality, and law in the United States. The brief showcased original research by the historians demonstrating that LGBT individuals brought claims seeking protection under Title VII’s ban on discrimination “because of sex” shortly after the law was enacted, and that some officials at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at that time interpreted Title VII to cover claims of discrimination based on sexual orientation and transgender status. The brief also argued that it was not until the mid-1970s, in the context of backlash against the Equal Rights Amendment and growing anti-gay and anti-women’s rights activism, that the EEOC backtracked from its earlier favorable treatment of LGBT claimants.
Justice Gorsuch’s opinion for the Court recognized the force of this history in explaining why the plain text of Title VII’s bar on discrimination “because of sex” protects LGBT individuals. He noted: “Not long after the law’s passage, gay and transgender employees began filing Title VII complaints….And less than a decade after Title VII’s passage, during debates over the Equal Rights Amendment, others counseled that its language—which was strikingly similar to Title VII’s—might also protect homosexuals from discrimination.”
Founded in February 2016, Wilkinson Stekloff has grown to nearly 40 lawyers and has quickly established itself as the leading trial boutique firm in the country. The firm has tried over a dozen cases to verdict across the country, winning the vast majority, and has won several other pre-trial victories in bet-the-company cases. As part of its commitment to pro bono work, the firm routinely files amicus briefs on a broad array of issues in the Supreme Court and in appellate courts across the county.