The Department of Justice under Attorney
General Jeff Sessions will argue in a federal case that LGBT people
are not protected from workplace discrimination under current federal
civil rights law.
The Washington Blade, citing two
sources familiar with the upcoming filing, reported that the Justice
Department will argue that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
does not prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual
orientation or gender identity in a case before the Second Circuit
Court of Appeals.
Plaintiff in the case is the estate of
Donald Zarda, which claims that his employer, Altitude Express, fired
him because he's gay. A three-judge panel in April ruled against
Zarda, saying that Title VII does not apply to sexual orientation.
Lawyers in the case appealed to the full court.
“Before the deadline of Wednesday at
close of business, sources say the Justice Department intends to file
a friend-of-the-court brief that would affirm the view of the
three-judge panel and argue the prohibition of sex discrimination
under Title VII doesn’t prohibit discrimination on the basis of
sexual orientation,” the
“Additionally, sources say DOJ is
going to take the opportunity to argue Title VII also doesn’t
prohibit discrimination based on gender identity – even though
transgender discrimination isn’t at issue in the case.”
Under former Attorney General Eric
Holder, the department held that Title VII protected against
discrimination on the basis of gender identity. The Justice
Department, however, has not previously held that Title VII protects
on the basis of sexual orientation.
Other federal courts have reached the
opposite conclusion, including the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
in Chicago, which sided with a plaintiff who claimed she was denied a
permanent teaching position because she is a lesbian.
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