Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc.: 2nd Circuit Holds Title VII Bars Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation

On Monday, February 26, 2018, the 2nd Circuit became the second federal appeals court in the country to hold that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars employers from discriminating against workers based on sexual orientation. In a 10-3 decision, the Court overruled its prior decisions and said that a worker’s sex is necessarily a factor in discrimination based on sexual orientation, thus falling within the scope of Title VII’s protections.

In April 2017, the 7th Circuit became the first federal appeals court to find that Title VII bans discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, in March 2017, the 11th Circuit held that the same law does not protect employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Although the United States Supreme Court declined last December to take up a Georgia case that posed this same question, the ongoing split between the circuit courts may cause the high court to reconsider in the near future. For more, see news coverage on this issue here and here.

Image by Bjoertvedt, CC BY-SA 3.0.