The LGBT community may no longer have the support of the executive branch of the federal government. A recent action by the Justice Department may have far reaching effects throughout the country as well as in Williamson County, Tennessee.
In a case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, an employee of a skydiving company said he was unfairly fired due to his sexual orientation. A prior decision by the EEOC supported his position and issued a right to sue letter. The employee then filed suit.
However, the Trump Administration, through the Justice Department, recently filed an amicus curiae or “friend of the court” brief in the lawsuit. In its brief, it declared that sexual discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not apply to discrimination based on sexual orientation. Currently, the case is pending before the court.
The action, coupled with President Trump’s recent proclamation that transgender individuals can no longer serve in the military, represents a departure from the previous administration, which supported anti-discrimination measures for gay and lesbian employees. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not specifically reference sexual orientation as a prohibited manner of discrimination, but recent guidelines by the EEOC have interpreted the law in this manner.
It is unknown whether the EEOC will revert back to its previous interpretation of the Civil Rights Act. As the main enforcement agency for employment discrimination matters, a change in policy could affect millions of employees nationwide. The Justice Department still backed the longstanding rule against discrimination based on sex, such as treating male and female employees differently, is still in force.
For those with a potential employment discrimination claim, it is important to seek the advice of an employment law attorney. A lawyer could keep a client abreast in evolving laws and court rulings.