My unabashed love of the New York Yankees has been well chronicled here on the blog. (Here and here for just a sample.)
So imagine my surprise when I did a deeper dive last night into the Supreme Court’s landmark decision yesterday. There on page ten, Justice Gorsuch digs deep into baseball loyalties for this example:
Consider an employer with a policy of firing any woman he discovers to be a Yankees fan. Carrying out that rule because an employee is a woman and a fan of the Yankees is a firing “because of sex” if the employer would have tolerated the same allegiance in a male employee.
Or, put another way, it’s ok to fire Yankees fans, so long as all employees who like the Yankees (both male and female) are treated the same.
(I’m still waiting for a vociferous dissent from Justice Sotomayor – a devout Yankees fan herself.)
Wait, you might say — That’s my private belief! How can I be fired for just liking a baseball team?
But obviously, you can. That’s exact the point the Court is making.
Employment law is broad, but it isn’t that broad. Being a fan of a sports team is not a protected category.
Indeed, I often point out to people that employment-at-will still means that employers can fire employees for any reason with an exception. You can’t fire someone when doing so for a protected class (race, sex, etc.) is prohibited under the law.
Being a Yankees fan may be great, but it still isn’t protected under the law.
Now, if you were a Red Sox fan….