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New position from DOJ says LGBT workers not protected

A new brief filed by the Department of Justice reversed their position on LGBT discrimination in the workplace, and employees in California and across the nation are paying attention. According to Business Insider, the DOJ weighed in on a case currently in the Second Circuit Court, saying that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not cover discrimination based on the sexual orientation of an employee.

The case, Zarda v. Altitude Express, was brought in 2010 by a now-deceased skydiving instructor who claimed his sexual orientation was the reason he was fired. The Second Circuit has previously ruled that sexual orientation was not protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but other federal appeals courts have found that it is. Without a consensus among the appeals courts, the law will not be clarified unless it is taken up by Congress or the Supreme Court weighs in. To further complicate the matter, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is openly disagreeing with the DOJ on the issue and believes sexual orientation is covered. Major businesses have also been becoming more LGBT-friendly: 96 percent of Fortune 500 companies have policies in place to protect these workers.

This confusion is not new for LGBT workers who have to deal with a variety of laws, depending upon the state they live in. As Fast Company reports, 28 states allow employees to be fired for being gay. California is one of only 19 states to bans workplace discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity. Three other states do prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, but they exclude gender identity from this protection.

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