Consolidated cases of Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, and Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda were argued on October 8, 2019.
These cases ask: Does the term “sex” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which makes it unlawful for an employer to fire or refuse to hire an individual or to base their wages or benefits on the basis of their “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin”) include sexual orientation?
In Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, a gay man named Gerald Bostock was employed by the Juvenile Court of Clayton County, Georgia. Bostock started to participate in a gay recreational softball league, and, several months later, he was fired for “conduct unbecoming of a county employee.”
In Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda, a gay man named Donald Zarda was working as a skydive instructor for Altitude Express. Due to the close physical proximity required for the tandem skydive, Zarda often told female customers that he was gay in order to prevent them from feeling uncomfortable. After being fired for allegedly touching a female customer inappropriately (accusations that he denied), he filed for unemployment benefits. In doing so he discovered that Altitude Express informed the New York Department of Labor that he had been fired “for shar[ing] inappropriate information with [customers] regarding his personal life,” not for the incident with the female customer.
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