In Manhattan on Monday the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overruled prior decisions and said that a worker’s sex is necessarily a factor in discrimination based on sexual orientation. Thus ruling that a federal law banning sex bias in the workplace (The 1964 Civil Rights Act) also prohibits discrimination against gay employees.
The 2nd Circuit revived a lawsuit by the estate of Donald Zarda, a former skydiving instructor who said he was fired after he told a customer he was gay and she complained. Zarda’s estate was backed in the appeal by dozens of large companies, including Alphabet Inc’s Google, Microsoft Corp, CBS Corp and Viacom Inc.
Zarda’s former employer, Altitude Express Inc, and companies that have faced similar lawsuits have argued that when Congress adopted Title VII more than 50 years ago, it did not consider whether the law’s ban on sex bias included discrimination based on sexual orientation.
But lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender groups and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have increasingly argued that sexual orientation is a function of a person’s gender.
The 2nd Circuit agreed on Monday in its 10-3 decision.
The U.S. Supreme Court in December declined to take up a different case out of Georgia that posed the same question.
This is a major loss for the Trump administration after arguing in the case that gays and lesbians were not covered under the Civil Rights Act.
Donald Zarda died in a BASE-jumping accident after the lawsuit was filed.