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Activists push for Title VII protection of sexual orientation

The lawsuit against the employer of a skydiving instructor should pique the interest of people in California concerned about workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. According to court filings, the employer stands accused of firing the man because of his sexual orientation. The case has gained national attention now that the Department of Justice has filed an amicus brief insisting that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect people from discrimination because of sexual orientation.

The brief stated that sex discrimination only occurred when employees of one sex were treated poorly in comparison to similar employees of the opposite sex. A statement from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights described the actions of the DOJ as a direct contradiction to guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that interprets Title VII as applying to sexual orientation. The director of the American Civil Liberties Union's LGBT & HIV Project added that the current administration wanted to promote discrimination.

The man at the heart of the lawsuit died in a skydiving accident, but the executors of his estate have decided to continue pursuing the discrimination claim against the former employer. The estate intends to appeal the case that a district court refused to recognize as an incidence of sexual discrimination.

In addition to discrimination on the basis of sex, workers also experience mistreatment because of religion, age, disability and race. Someone struggling in a hostile workplace or who has been terminated or denied employment because of illegal actions could seek damages with the help of an attorney. After reviewing the evidence, an attorney might determine workplace discrimination impacted the person's life. A lawsuit might result in the recovery of compensation for lost pay and benefits and career damage.

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