Court rule on LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections a victory: ACLU
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lauded the recent decision by a New York federal appeals court on nondiscrimination protections siding with LGBTQ workers and called it a big loss for the Trump administration.
The court had ruled that LGBTQ workers can’t be fired based on their sexual orientation despite the administration’s insistence that they can.
Court decision on nondiscrimination protections
The court ruled that discrimination based on sexual orientation cannot be separated from discrimination based on sex.
To “identify the sexual orientation of a particular person, we need to know the sex of the person and that of the people to whom he or she is attracted,” the court had declared on the issue of nondiscrimination protections.
The full Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the scope of the Civil Rights Act in Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., which had the Department of Justice (DOJ) weighing on the side of the employer.
The DOJ had argued that sexual orientation is not protected under Title VII’s definition of sex. The ACLU had opposed this together with several other organizations, filing a friend-of-the-court brief.
Earlier, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit had concluded that discriminating against LGBTQ people isn’t prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans sex discrimination in the workplace.
Last year, the court had decided to look at their decision again in the wake of of the federal appeals court decision in Chicago that recognized that discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal sex discrimination.
Reaffirming LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections
Ironically, the move by the DOJ, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, had put it at odds with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency that enforces employment discrimination laws.
“Today’s decision is a victory for lesbian, gay, and bisexual workers across the country,” said Ria Tabacco Mar, staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project.
To determine nondiscrimination protections, the court had determined the futility of assessing whether epithets such as ‘fag,’ ‘gay,’ and ‘queer’ discriminate based on sex or sexual orientation.
“This decision is also a repudiation of the Trump administration’s Justice Department, which has insisted that LGBT discrimination is acceptable under federal law,” Mar said.
Mar also wrote in the ACLU blog that the administration’s move to see sexual orientation as not being protected under Title VII was “disappointing, but perhaps not surprising.”
“President Trump may be a bully, but he doesn’t get the last word on LGBT people’s rights,” she said.