LGBT bias case going to Supreme Court?

The employer in the "gay skydiver case" has reportedly asked for Supreme Court review.

According to Law360 and Equality Case Files (a non-profit organization that tracks litigation involving LGBT rights), the employer in Zarda v. Altitude Express has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether sexual orientation discrimination is a type of "sex discrimination" prohibited by Title VII.

Will we finally get a definitive answer to this question?

I can't find an "official" copy of the petition for writ of certiorari on the Supreme Court website or on SCOTUSblog, but here is an "unofficial" copy that was published by Equality Case Files.

In the Zarda case, the estate of a skydiving instructor claimed that he was terminated because of his sexual orientation. Suit was filed under Title VII and New York law. (There were other claims in the lawsuit that aren't relevant to the LGBT issue.) The court granted summary judgment to Altitude Express on the Title VII claim, finding that Title VII didn't prohibit sexual orientation discrimination. The New York state law claims went to a jury, which found in favor of Altitude Express. 

This spring, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found that sexual orientation discrimination was prohibited by Title VII, meaning that Mr. Zarda's estate will get another shot, this time under Title VII.

(Unless the Supreme Court takes the case and reverses the Second Circuit.)

My blog posts on the Zarda case (from most recent to least) are here, here, here, and here.

In another petition reportedly filed with the Supreme Court, the plaintiff in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, is asking the Court to review the same issue. In his case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit found that sexual orientation discrimination was not prohibited by Title VII.

I don't know about you, but I hope that the Supreme Court takes the cases and settles this issue once and for all.

Image Credit: From flickr, Creative Commons license, by Jeff Kubina.

Robin Shea has 30 years' experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act). 
Continue Reading



Back to Page