The Legal Aid Society Files Amicus Brief Arguing Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination in the Workplace

The Legal Aid Society on Monday filed an amicus brief in Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., a case pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, arguing that employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The filing arose out of a rare order issued by the Second Circuit to reconsider the appeals court’s existing jurisprudence on this issue, which currently holds that sex discrimination under Title VII does not include sexual orientation discrimination.

The Second Circuit invited amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs from interested parties, and The Legal Aid Society, as the nation’s oldest and largest private not-for-profit organization providing free legal services to low-income individuals and families, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, submitted a “Brandeis brief” melding sociological data and law.

The brief was prepared in partnership with law firm Goodwin Procter LLP and supports the position that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act per se prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. It offers the Second Circuit, now sitting en banc, a compelling combination of sociological data and legal analysis to assist with its review of this landmark case.