Sexual Orientation Protected by Title VII, Court Says

The intent of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to protect workers from employer discrimination, is alive and well as courts continue to use this more than 50-sexual orientation discriminationyear-old statute to defend citizens who are unjustly targeted by their employer for their sex, national origin, race, color, or religion. And thanks to a skydiving instructor and a ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sexual orientation is becoming more recognized as a status that falls under these protections.

Sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, the court recently determined in its 10-3 opinion, which mirrors a previous ruling by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals last year, according to CNN. The opinion affirms the conclusion of the 7th Circuit as well as EEOC Decision No. 0120133080  that the employee’s sex is being taken into consideration in relation to the person they are attracted to. In other words, if a male employee was attracted to a man and a female employee is attracted to that same man, punishing the male employee would be discrimination based on his sex, all other considerations remaining the same. The ruling further outlines “associational discrimination,” as a form of sex discrimination because the “employer took his or her sex into account by treating him or her differently for associating with a person of the same sex.”

This flings opens the door for others in those circuits to file lawsuits for sexual orientation discrimination. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals covers Connecticut, New York and Vermont, while the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals includes areas of Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin.Californians are fortunate that the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act already includes “sexual orientation” among protected employee traits for employers of five or more. It protects applicants and current employees from discrimination for sexual orientation or retaliation for asserting their employee rights. Our law firm is proud to defend employees who have been the victim of discrimination for sexual orientation, among other statewide protected statuses, like sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, and more. And we know that as more courts affirm employee sexual orientation protections, we come closer to the day all employees will finally be protected at the federal level.

In the case associated with this latest judgment, a skydiving instructor was fired in 2010 allegedly after revealing his sexual orientation to a sky diver of the opposite sex he was supposed to perform a tandem jump with. Plaintiff said this revelation was intended to alleviate possible discomfort due to the body-to-body contact during jumps, according to the lawsuit. The client’s boyfriend, however, complained to the company, contending inappropriate touching also took place, which plaintiff denied.

The instructor in this lawsuit sadly passed away before the case went to trial, so he never saw this momentous victory. But our Orange County sexual orientation discrimination attorneys know his legacy will live on well beyond today. We applaud his estate for continuing with the lawsuit, which has set precedent that could help many more LGBT employees fighting to work in a safe, fair, and equal workplace. And we will continue that fight in Orange County for anyone who has been subject to discrimination in the workplace based on their sexual orientation. Our attorneys have extensive experience in LGBT issues, sexual orientation discrimination, sex discrimination, and harassment, that we will use to further your case.

Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.

Additional Resources:

Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., Feb. 26, 2018, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

More Blog Entries:

Protection Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination Extended in California, Jan. 7, 2016, Orange County Employment Lawyers Blog


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