U.S. Appeals Court Rules Title VII Prohibits Sexual Orientation Discrimination


Posted by: Chris

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on their sex. The interpretation of this law, more specifically, whether or not it prohibits sexual orientation discrimination, has been debated for months. After months of litigation, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals finally ruled on this matter in February of this year.

The Battle Over Sexual Orientation Discrimination

The battle began when a skydiving instructor in Long Island filed a sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit against his employer. The plaintiff alleged that he was fired after his employer found out that he was gay, and that his sexual orientation was the sole reason for his termination.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and civil rights activists have stated that sexual orientation discrimination is a type of sex discrimination, so it is also prohibited by Title VII. But, the plaintiff’s employer--and the Trump administration-- argued that Title VII was not meant to offer this protection.

The district court sided with the employer and dismissed the case, but the plaintiff appealed to a higher court. In February, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals stated that sexual orientation should be seen as a subset of gender discrimination because it is defined by someone’s gender. The court also explained that sexual orientation discrimination is typically based on stereotypes about how a certain sex should act or who they should be romantically involved with. For these reasons, the court ruled in favor of the plaintiff.

Filing A Sexual Orientation Discrimination Lawsuit

This ruling was seen by a huge step in the right direction by many, but it does not mean that winning sexual orientation lawsuits will be easy. In fact, nine other federal appeals courts have previously ruled that Title VII does not cover sexual orientation discrimination. This means it will most likely still be difficult for victims to recover compensation for this form of discrimination.

If you believe you have been discriminated against because of your sexual orientation, it’s recommended that you speak with an employment law attorney about your case. Each case is unique, so it’s best to discuss your situation with an attorney to learn about your legal options.

Have you been discriminated against in the workplace? If so, talk to the experienced attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. We will fight tirelessly to reach the best possible outcome in your case. Please call us today at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.