Last week, the Justice Department weighed in on an unsettled legal issue – whether the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBT employees from workplace discrimination. The Department of Justice (DOJ) argued that it did not, that federal civil rights law does not ban discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community. This is contrary to the previous administration’s position and the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Further, appellate courts around the country differ on their conclusions, with the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals finding that prohibited sex discrimination extends to and includes sexual orientation discrimination. However the 11th Circuit has just reached the opposite determination – that Title VII does not provide legal recourse when gay, lesbian and transgender workers face discrimination and harassment at work. Thus it is likely this issue will head to the Supreme Court.
The DOJ filed its amicus brief arguing against the inclusion of sexual orientation in Title VII in a case involving a sky diving instructor who asserted that he was fired because he was gay. The man argued that his termination was illegal based on Title VII’s protection against sex discrimination, which he asserted included sexual orientation. The DOJ argued that Title VII doesn’t include sexual orientation discrimination, and only applies to “similarly situated employees’ of different sexes unequally.” The DOJ also argued that an expansion of the Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation should be left to Congress.”
A final ruling has not been made in this case.
For more information or if you or a loved one has suffered any form of workplace discrimination, please contact the experienced Atlanta employment discrimination lawyers at Buckley Beal, LLP for an immediate consultation.