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Appeals Court Rules Civil Rights Act Protects Gay Workers – EQTX Statement
Posted on February 26, 2018 at 4:47 pm

A U.S. appeals court in Manhattan on Monday ruled that a federal law banning sex bias in the workplace also prohibits discrimination against gay employees, becoming only the second court to do so.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overruled prior decisions and said that a worker’s sex is necessarily a factor in discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The ruling went against a court brief filed by the Trump administration in 2017 that said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was not intended to provide protections to gay workers.

Statement of Rebecca L. Robertson, Chief Program Officer, Equality Texas

Equality Texas today praised an en banc opinion from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes New York, Vermont and Connecticut, holding that workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The E.E.O.C. had argued that Title VII, which bars workplace discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex or national origin,” protected gay employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The Trump Justice Department argued against the EEOC’s position in the case.

Today’s decision is a victory for LGBTQ equality, marking yet another federal circuit court of appeals interpreting existing civil rights laws to cover LGBTQ Americans. However, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Texas, and several other circuits, have yet to rule that LGBTQ people are protected by existing civil rights laws.  Ultimately, until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the issue or Congress strengthens existing law, too many LGBTQ people will continue to be discriminated against at work, in access to housing, at school, and in public accommodations.  We look forward to the day that our civil rights laws protect everyone.


Equality Texas is the largest statewide organization working solely to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Texans through political action, education, community organizing, and collaboration.