May 18, 2021 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Court: Civil Rights Act Protects Sexual Orientation

In a ruling that could ensure workplace protection for gay workers, a federal appeals court in New York has ruled that employers are not allowed to discriminate against employees on the basis of sexual orientation.

The ruling marks a loss for the Trump administration. Back in July, the Justice Department took the unusual step of intervening in an ongoing dispute between a worker and employer over alleged discrimination, arguing that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act did not protect workers from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Oddly enough, this put the Justice Department on the opposite side of the issue from another federal entity, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The case centered around the interpretation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit became the second appeals court to rule that the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits workplace prejudice on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin,” implicitly covers sexual orientation as well. An appeals court in Atlanta has ruled differently, setting up a showdown in an increasingly conservative Supreme Court.

The dispute that the case stemmed from began when a skydiving company, Altitude Express, fired a skydiving instructor, Donald Zarda, in 2010. Altitude Express terminated Zarda for telling a female client that he was “100 percent gay” as they were preparing for a tandem sky-dive, which involves strapping the client and instructor together. The woman’s boyfriend complained to the company.

Zarda defended himself, saying that the woman had seemed uncomfortable with the close physical contact and the comment was meant to allay her anxiety. In response to his termination, he filed a lawsuit claiming that his Title VII rights had been violated by Altitude Express. This most recent court victory follows two previous court rulings against him.

Tragically, Zarda is not around to enjoy the verdict. In 2014, he died in a sky-diving accident, but his lawsuit continued to wind its way through the judicial system.

In the majority opinion for the Second Circuit, Chief Judge Robert Katzmann pointed out that “Since 1964, the legal framework for evaluating Title VII claims has evolved substantially.” For example, he continued, the law has expanded to outlaw discrimination based on “sex stereotypes.”

It does not make sense to exclude sexual orientation from the list of prohibited biases, Judge Katzmann concluded. “Sexual orientation discrimination is a subset of sex discrimination because sexual orientation is defined by one’s sex in relation to the sex of those to whom one is attracted,” he wrote, “making it impossible for an employer to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without taking sex into account.”

A historic court decision could lead to better LGBTQ+ workplace protections nationwide.

Related Posts

Skittles Gives Up Rainbow For Pride

May 15, 2021

May 15, 2021

As Pride season approaches, Skittles has announced that it will be giving up it’s rainbow again because “only one rainbow...

Instagram Has Finally Added Pronouns

May 15, 2021

May 15, 2021

In an effort to be more inclusive the popular social media platform Instagram has finally introduced pronouns on user profiles. ...

2021 Pride Announces “Thrive With Pride” Theme

May 15, 2021

May 15, 2021

LA Pride has announced its 2021 pride theme this year called “Thrive With Pride”.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in...

Ellen DeGeneres Ending 18 Year Talk Show

May 13, 2021

May 13, 2021

After more than 3,000 episodes and 19 seasons it is confirmed that Ellen DeGeneres is ending her talk show The...

Stoli Vodka’s Harvey Milk Collector’s Edition Bottle

May 13, 2021

May 13, 2021

In honor of Pride 2021 Stoli Vodka has launched a limited edition Harvey Milk collectors edition bottle.  On Harvey Milk...

Celebrate National Masturbation Month

May 9, 2021

May 9, 2021

May is National Masturbation Month with National Masturbation Day, also known as International Masturbation Day being celebrated on May 7th. ...

Patrick O’Connell, AIDS Activist, Dead At 67

May 6, 2021

May 6, 2021

Patrick O’Connell, a venerable AIDS activist and creator of the iconic red ribbon creating awareness about the disease, has died...

Lesbian Visibility Week

May 2, 2021

May 2, 2021

This past week marked the 13th year of Lesbian Visibility Week celebrated between April 25th and May 2nd.  The origin...

Kellogg’s Launching LGBTQ Themed Cereal

April 30, 2021

April 30, 2021

Kellogg’s is launching a limited edition LGBT-themed cereal in celebration of Pride. The company teamed up with GLAAD to create...

Caitlyn Jenner Running For Governor Of California

April 25, 2021

April 25, 2021

Caitlyn Jenner, Olympic gold medalist and transgender activist, announced that she will be running for California Governor. 71-year-old Jenner made...

WeHo Standing Up Against Sexual Violence On ‘Denim Day’

April 25, 2021

April 25, 2021

The City of West Hollywood encourages everyone to wear jeans on Denim Day, Wednesday, April 28, 2021, which is an...

Lil Nas X “Satan Shoes” Controversy

April 9, 2021

April 9, 2021

Since releasing his controversially queer-positive music video “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” gay singer/rapper Lil Nas X has had...

Tina Turner Documentary Breaks Records

April 4, 2021

April 4, 2021

Singer, song writer and gay icon Tina Turner released a documentary on HBO Max as a farewell to her fans...

Trans Visibility Day Proclamation From President Biden

April 1, 2021

April 1, 2021

Yesterday marked the 12th anniversary of Trans Visibility Day and the first time a sitting president has ever made a...

Bisexual Men Have Higher Chance Of Developing Eating Disorders

March 28, 2021

March 28, 2021

March is Bisexual Health Awareness Month and according to a study done by the University of California San Francisco bisexual...