Trump administration to back ruling that would allow discrimination of LGBT+ workers

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The Trump administration has called on a US appeals court to rule that a federal law does not ban discrimination against LGBT+ employees.

The Manhattan court is currently in the midst of ruling on the case of Donald Zarda, a former skydiving instructor that says his old company, Altitude Express Inc, fired him because of his sexuality.

The company is being supported by the US Department of Justice, however, the Court of Appeals will have the final ruling on whether discrimination against workers based on their sexuality is a form of unlawful bias under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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

Currently, the law bans discrimination of workers based on their sex, race and religion.

Trump’s government are calling for the appeals court to rule so that sexuality-based discrimination is not included in the definition.

Zarda said that Altitude Express Inc fired him after he 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.

Related: People can still be fired for being gay in the US

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

Zarda has since died in a base jumping accident, but estate executors have persisted with the case.

Activists in the US are worried that Trump’s administration backing the ruling will make more for other anti-LGBT policies to be passed.

The President has already discriminated against transgender military personnel by ordering the military to not accept them.

In a number of other cases similar to Zarda V Altitude Express, 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” workplaces 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”.