Department of Justice, agency clash over Civil Rights Act

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal appeals court in New York City is getting conflicting advice from the government over whether a civil rights law covers sexual orientation.

The Department of Justice told the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in court papers Wednesday that sexual orientation is not covered by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The law bans workplace discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces the law against private employers and says sexual orientation is covered, offering multiple theories on why that is so.

The Justice Department said its position is consistent with prior court rulings and the will of Congress, which has never explicitly included sexual orientation in the law. The papers were filed in a case brought by a skydiving instructor who said his employer violated Title VII by firing him in 2010 over his sexual orientation.

"The sole question here is whether, as a matter of law, Title VII reaches sexual orientation discrimination," said the Justice Department, which is not a party in the case. "It does not, as has been settled for decades. Any efforts to amend Title VII's scope should be directed to Congress rather than the courts." FULL ARTICLE