The Justice Department Argues That The Civil Rights Act Doesn’t Protect Gay People In The Workplace

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The same day that Anthony Scaramucci defended President Trump as the “most pro-LGBTQ rights POTUS in history,” the Justice Department made the argument that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act definitively does not include sexual orientation as a protected category. The law does ban workplace discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” The Justice Department now wants to make it clear that the law absolutely stops short of protecting GBLTQ workers from discrimination based on their sexual and romantic preferences.

A skydiving instructor named Donald Zarda claims that his company violated Title VII when they fired him after he disclosed his sexual orientation to a customer. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission weighed in with support for Mr. Zarda’s case, but the Justice Department insists that doesn’t mean the E.E.O.C. was “speaking for the United States” and that this is still, ultimately, not any one department’s decision to make:

“The sole question here is whether, as a matter of law, Title VII reaches sexual orientation discrimination,” said a Justice Department brief. “It does not, as has been settled for decades. Any efforts to amend Title VII’s scope should be directed to Congress rather than the courts.”

Congress has refused to add sexual orientation protections to Title VII for the past forty years, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions feels it’s still up to elected lawmakers to decide if the Civil Rights Act should be further amended. It’s unlikely Mr. Zarda will win his case or that Title VII will be updated any time soon — after all, Congress is already busy with the Trump administration’s budget, a health care impasse, and the Russia probe. On the other hand, this also means that GBLTQ workers can worry a little less about a sudden proclamation from the Judicial or Executive branches on the matter, like Trump’s shocking announcement yesterday that transgender soldiers should no longer be allowed in the military.

(Via New York Times)