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DOJ under AG Jeff Sessions to reject LGBT workplace protections under Title VII

Washington, D.C. — 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 Blade wrote.

"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.

(Related: At ADF summit, Jeff Sessions promised DOJ guidance on "religious freedom."
Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine
 
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