Federal Court Sides with Pro-LGBTQ Rights
NEW YORK, NY — September 25, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, located in New York City, challenged Donald Trump’s Department of Justice stance on its recent anti-LGBTQ legal posture with the question, “What are you doing in our courthouse?” The Department of Justice was in court to bring its arguments in Zarda v. Altitude Express. 

By the end of the day, Department of Justice still had not adequately explained themselves to the court, however the Department did learn that its legal posture will not be received with open arms by federal judges. Regarding the case, the court found that the should not have involved the Department of Justice in the first place. Zarda revolves around a question of statutory interpretation of whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 offers protection for employees from anti-gay workplace discrimination.

Title VII bars employment discrimination “because of sex,” which many federal courts have interpreted to encompass sexual orientation discrimination. While the 2nd Circuit is not officially among their ranks, recently Chief Judge Robert Katzmann signaled that he would like to change that stance. And officially, this last week, all of the judges assembled to deliberate and collectively decide to join other courts that believe Title VII already prohibits anti-gay discrimination in the workplace.
Although rare, the Department Of Justice and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) disagree on the interpretation of Title VII. It doesn’t happen often that two federal agencies disagree, and it should not happen in theory.

Judge Rosemary Pooler stated, “We love to hear from the federal government… but it’s a bit awkward to hear from them on both sides.”
Discrimination can go beyond making harassing or harmful comments about one’s sexual orientation. According to the EEOC, some examples of LGBTQ-related sex discrimination include:

“Failing to hire an applicant because she is a transgender woman, Firing an employee because he is planning or has made a gender transition. Denying an employee equal access to a common restroom corresponding to the employee’s gender identity. Harassing an employee because of a gender transition, such as by intentionally and persistently failing to use the name and gender pronoun that correspond to the gender identity with which the employee identifies, and which the employee has communicated to management and employees. Denying an employee a promotion because he is gay or straight…”

Such conduct is illegal. Additionally, beyond federal law, there are state and city protections for LGBTQ employees and applicants. For instance, the state of New York and New York City have laws in place that hold employers to an even higher standard.

If you feel you have been the victim of workplace discrimination or sexual harassment in New York City, Miami, New Jersey or Philadelphia or if your employment rights have been violated, call us at 800-807-2209 for a free consultation. Our attorneys are available to review your claims and prepare a solid case to recover the damages and justice you deserved.

About Derek Smith

Attorney Derek T. Smith is an experienced sexual harassment & discrimination law litigator who has particular experience in the areas of workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, civil rights litigation, employment law and civil litigation.

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