Federal Appeals Court Rules Sexual Orientation Discrimination Violates Title VII

By Cecilia Romero Overturning prior precedent, the full panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII. Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc.. With this landmark ruling, the Second Circuit joins the Seventh Circuit in extending Title VII sex discrimination protection to employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, this opinion further highlights a split in circuits over this issue—the Eleventh Circuit which holds the opposite. The EEOC has taken the position consistent with the Second Circuit. Facts of Case Donald Zarda, who worked for Altitude Express as a skydiving instructor in New York, was gay. To preempt any discomfort his female students might feel being strapped to an unfamiliar man, Zarda often disclosed he was gay. Before one particular tandem jump with a female student, Zarda told her that he was gay and had an ex-husband to prove it. After…

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