A US federal court has overruled the Trump administrations claims it is legal to fire somebody for being gay, ruling that civil laws protect gay workers from discrimination.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled in the case of former skydiving instructor Donald Zarda, who claimed that his previous company, Altitude Express Inc, fired him due to his sexuality.
Anti-LGBT Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the head of the Trump Administration's justice department, argued before the court that civil rights provision, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, does not provide any protection for gay individuals.
The court rebuked these claims, making for a historic moment in the LGBT community.
The judges said "We now hold that sexual orientation discrimination constitutes a form of discrimination ‘because of sex’, in violation of Title VII.
“We therefore VACATE the district court’s judgment on the Title VII claim and REMAND for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”
They continued: “The Supreme Court has held that Title VII prohibits not just discrimination based on sex itself, but also discrimination based on traits that are a function of sex, such as life expectancy, and non‐conformity with gender norms.
“We now conclude that sexual orientation discrimination is motivated, at least in part, by sex and is thus a subset of sex discrimination. Looking first to the text of Title VII, the most natural reading of the statute’s prohibition on discrimination “because of sex’ is that it extends to sexual orientation discrimination, because sex is necessarily a factor in sexual orientation.”
”Because one cannot fully define a person’s sexual orientation without identifying his or her sex, sexual orientation is a function of sex.
“Indeed sexual orientation is doubly delineated by sex because it is a function of both a person’s sex and the sex of those to whom he or she is attracted.
“Logically, because sexual orientation is a function of sex and sex is a protected characteristic under Title VII, it follows that sexual orientation is also protected.”
The decision came as a bittersweet victory to the family of Mr. Zarda, who passed away shortly after beginning the litigation against his employer.
Recounting the case, the judges said:
“In the summer of 2010, Donald Zarda, a gay man, worked as a sky‐diving instructor at Altitude Express.
“As part of his job, he regularly participated in tandem skydives, strapped hip‐to‐hip and shoulder‐to‐shoulder with clients.
“In an environment where close physical proximity was common, Zarda’s co‐workers routinely referenced sexual orientation or made sexual jokes around clients, and Zarda sometimes told female clients about his sexual orientation to assuage any concern they might have about being strapped to a man for a tandem skydive.
“That June, Zarda told a female client with whom he was preparing for a tandem skydive that he was gay ‘and had an ex‐husband to prove it’.”
Zarda was promptly fired after the female client complained about his conduct, which then triggered the lawsuit from Mr. Zarda toward his employers himself.
We hope the issue is resolved with grace and dignity, but it is likely that this will be heading toward the Supreme Court.