This week the LGBT community and its supporters won an important case in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. In Zarda v. Altitude Express, the Court ruled that Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination extends to same-sex, or “anti-gay,” discrimination. In that case, Donald Zarda, a gay skydiving instructor, alleged he was unlawfully fired after a customer complained about him disclosing his same-sex orientation.
A New York Appellate decision issued last week—finding that firing an employee for being sexually attractive states a claim for gender discrimination—exemplifies the broad interpretation of discrimination laws in recent years.
Plaintiff Dilek Edwards worked as a yoga instructor and massage therapist for a Manhattan-based chiropractor and wellness center owned and operated by a married couple. Edwards maintains that she was regularly praised for her performance and maintained a “purely professional” relationship with the husband-owner.
Since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Executive Order 11246 in 1965, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has been charged with ensuring nondiscrimination and affirmative action for females in employment. In 1970, regulations were issued to further this goal, known as the Sex Discrimination Guidelines, codified at 41 CFR Part 60-20.
Those guidelines have not been substantially updated in the 46 years since. Until now, that is. The DOL acknowledges the Guidelines have become “out of touch with current law and with the realities of today’s workforce and workplaces.” See: OFCCP Fact Sheet on Sex Discrimination Final Rule. So, the OFCCP is bringing the Guidelines “from the ‘Mad Men’ era’ to the modern era.’”