Court agrees to revisit employment discrimination case from 2010

In 2010, a man who was employed by a skydiving company filed a suit against his employer alleging that he was unlawfully terminated. The suit was filed on the basis that his termination was based on employment discrimination. The case was not filed here in California, but it may set a precedent depending on the outcome.

At the time the initial case was heard, the court ruled that the man's termination did not violate the Title VII Civil Rights Act of 1964. The plaintiff in the case claimed that he was fired because he was gay. At the time of the ruling, the district court determined that sexual orientation was not a protected class under the 1964 Act. The man's legal representative filed an appeal on the behalf of his estate after he suffered a fatal accident.

A panel made up of three judges heard the appeal based on the alleged discrimination and ruled that the case merited a full review by the entire seven member court. This decision signals that the 2nd Circuit Court in New York will determine whether those who are gay or lesbian are also protected from sexual discrimination by employers. In the past, the courts have ruled that sexual orientation is not covered; however, the outcome of this case could result in previous cases being retried if it rules in favor of the plaintiff's estate.

The United States 7th Court of Appeals has already overturned one such case when it decided in favor of a plaintiff who filed a suit that alleged she was terminated based on her sexual orientation. If the outcome of this case determines that sexual orientation is protected by the Title VII Act, then it will set a precedent for future cases. If it rules against the plaintiff, then the issue will most likely be decided by the United States Supreme Court at some point in the future. Workers in California who believe they have been a victim of employment discrimination have the right to seek information concerning taking legal action of their own.

Source: metroweekly.com, "Full 2nd Circuit agrees to hear gay skydiver's employment discrimination lawsuit", John Riley, May 26, 2017

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