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FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS LAW PROTECTS AGAINST EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION BASED ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION

While California's Fair Employment and Housing Act protects employees against discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation, among other characteristics, the issue was not as clear in the federal forum until recently. A federal appeals court in New York ruled on Monday that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal law that bans employment discrimination because of sex, also protects claims of discrimination based on sexual orientation. "Sexual orientation discrimination is a subset of sex discrimination because sexual orientation is defined by one's sex in relation to the sex of those to whom one is attracted," a 10-3 opinion issued by the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals stated.

The ruling is a loss for the Trump administration, which had argued that Congress did not mean Title VII to extend to claims of sexual orientation. The court, based in New York, becomes the second appeals court to rule that the civil rights law covers discrimination based on sexual orientation. Last year, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a similar ruling. The ruling means that employees in those two circuits can use existing civil rights law to sue for discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The case stems from 2010, when plaintiff was a skydiving instructor who informed a client that he was gay. The client complained to the company about the plaintiff's behavior and the company fired plaintiff.

Source: Ariane de Vogue, CNN Supreme Court Reporter (CNN)