Amicus Brief

Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc. (U.S.C.A. 2nd Circuit, 2017)

This case poses the question to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals of whether someone can legally be fired just because of their sexual orientation. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination “because of. . . sex,” but, so far, only the Seventh Circuit has held that this prohibition extends to sexual orientation. ADL joined a coalition of diverse bar associations and LGBT groups on an amicus brief arguing that that the Second Circuit should overturn its 2000 precedent holding that Title VII does not cover sexual orientation. The brief argues in part that sexual orientation discrimination is discrimination “because of. . . sex” under an “associational theory” of discrimination—that is, an employer is taking an employee’s sex into account when it discriminates against the employee for associating with someone of the same sex. The brief further argues that Title VII should cover sexual orientation discrimination as a form of gender-stereotyping that is impermissible under Title VII. The Second Circuit will review the case en banc (as a full court) instead of as a panel, as only the full court can overturn a Circuit precedent.