LGBT Employment Cases Heads to the Supreme Court

In what has been a banner decade for the LGBT community in terms of the legalization of gay marriage as well as our ever present visibility, there are still many battles that need to be taken care of.  Discrimination cases based on your sexual identity is definitely one, and its been a problematic issue for the community for decades now.  Well, this major problem is headed to the Supreme Court this fall, with hopes that it will succeed the same way that legalizing gay marriage did.


A new genre of employment discrimination cases that could be the next battleground for supporters of LGBT rights are hurtling towards the Supreme Court.

More than two years after the Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriage nationwide, plaintiffs want the justices to enable employees to use existing civil rights law to sue for discrimination based on sexual orientation. 

On Tuesday, a federal appeals court based in New York will hear arguments in one such case, and later this fall the Supreme Court will consider whether to take up a separate challenge. 

At the heart of the cases are whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal law that bans employment discrimination because of sex, also protects claims of sexual orientation. In an unusual twist in the case, the Trump administration is on opposite sides from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission — a federal agency charged with enforcing Title VII.

Several cases have happened over the past couple of years where someone who identifies as LGBT has been discriminated against by their employer that has even led to them being fired for being themselves.  For instance, Donald Zarda.  CNN continues:

On Tuesday, the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals will hear a claim brought by the estate of Donald Zarda. Zarda, a skydiving instructor, died before trial, but his estate has continued his suit.  

The case stems back from 2010 when Zarda was an Altitude Express instructor for Rosanna Orellana. Zarda's role was to be tied to the back of Orellana, deploy the parachute and supervise the jump. According to court papers, at some point Zarda informed Orellana that he was gay. After the jump, Orellana's boyfriend learned that Zarda had disclosed his sexual orientation and called Altitude Express with various complaints about Zarda's behavior. Zarda was fired.

The company contended that Zarda was fired for failing to provide an enjoyable experience to customers. Zarda asserted that his actions were appropriate and he was fired because of his sexuality — he filed a complaint with the EEOC alleging sex discrimination in violation of Title VII.

Lawyer Gregory Antollino and the LGBT rights group Lambda Legal will argue in support of Zarda's estate.

"If you discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, you necessarily take into account the sex of the employee," said Antollino. "You can't take the 'sex' out of "sexual orientation."

Do you think, with how politics are nowadays, that there will be laws enacted to protect us wholeheartedly from discrimination because of who we are?  


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