When typically conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion extending gender discrimination protections under federal law to the LGBT community, he and the other justices at least partially relied on the reasoning of Shaun Pichler, an associate professor of management at Cal State Fullerton’s Mihaylo College of Business and Economics.
Pichler’s research on diversity in human resources was cited multiple times in the amicus briefs – documents filed by interested parties other than the litigants for the court to consider – which the justices used to decide Bostock v. Clayton County, the groundbreaking ruling giving LGBT Americans employment protections in all but religious institution workplaces. Under the ruling, being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is a protected characteristic just as being male or female is.
The ruling affirmed Pichler’s research in “Heterosexism and Work-Family Concerns,” in which Pichler and his colleagues tasked undergraduate students and human resource professionals with examining fictitious job applicants seeking roles stereotypically thought of as being suited to the opposite gender.
“Both groups made selections based on the lack of fit between the perceived gender role stereotypes and the jobs, preferring gay men and heterosexual women for nursing and heterosexual men and lesbian women for sales,” says Pichler.
“This was the first known study to show that people are discriminated against based on how their sex and sexual orientation interact to cause applicants to be perceived as unqualified for jobs based on how their traits are perceived (i.e., as masculine or feminine). These findings are very much in line with the reasoning of the majority opinion.”
Read more about Pichler’s research and its impact in this CSUF News article.