People can still be fired for being gay in the US

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The US Department of Justice has failed to uphold LGBT rights as it made a decision to allow employers to fire employees on the basis of their sexuality.

On July 26, the DoJ ruled in a New York workplace discrimination case that the nation’s civil-rights laws do not protect against anti-LGBT discrimination.

Donald Zarda attempted to sue his former company Altitude Express, after he was fired.

The company fired him after Zarda, who was a sky-driving instructor, told a female customer that he was gay in the hopes to make her feel less awkward about being strapped to her for a dive.

The woman’s husband then complained about the comment, and Zarda was fired.

Zarda died before the case got to trial in a jumping accident, but estate executors persisted with it.

They said that the company had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlaws discrimination among employees “because of sex”.

However, judges ruled that this Title did not cover discrimination on sexual orientation.

The DoJ argued that if the Civil Rights Act were to explicitly cover sexual orientation, it should be passed through Congress.

“Any efforts to amend Title VII’s scope should be directed to Congres rather than the courts”.

“An employer does not engage in sex discrimination when it accounts for a sex-based difference without treating either sex worse than the other”.

However, a number of other cases similar to Zarda V Altitude Express differ in the final ruling and the DoJ has not intervened.

In Hively v Ivy Tech Community College, Hively was pushed out of her job as a professor allegedly for being a lesbian.

The panel of judges ruled in favour of Hively.

They found that the case was “no different” to cases in which women were rejected from “traditionally male” work places because of their gender.

Judge Richard Posner, who was part of the panel, wrote: “I don’t see why firing a lesbian because she is in the subset of women who are lesbian should be thought any less a form of sex discrimination than firing a woman because she’s a woman”.

In another similar case, Evans v Georgia Regional Hospital, it was ruled that Evans had no cause for complaint because the Title only bars discrimination can only occur between men and women and cannot protect against mistreatment due to sexuality.

The DoJ did not involve itself in the ruling of either Evans or Hively but its involvement in the Zarda case signals a move so that Title VII no longer covers anti-LGBT discrimination because “this type of discrimination can be experienced by both men and women”.