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Recent rulings recognize sexual orientation as protected class

New York residents may be confused as to whether being part of the LGBTQ community offers them protection under federal laws related to employment. While the question has not yet been settled, court rulings may be offering some clarity on the matter. In April 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit found that sexual orientation was covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

That decision went against the court's previous rulings as well as similar rulings by other appellate courts. It also means that in states covered by that court, sexual orientation is a protected attribute just like race, color or gender. In May 2017, a judge from a New York federal district court decided to use the 7th Circuit ruling as a basis to allow a State University of New York employee to pursue a discrimination claim against the school.

In allowing the person to pursue a claim on the basis that he was discriminated against because of sexual orientation, the court went against a March 2017 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. As the 2nd Circuit has jurisdiction over New York, lower courts in that state are usually bound to follow the law as interpreted by it. Based on these rulings, however, employers are being encouraged to recognize sexual orientation as a protected class.

Members of the LGBTQ community who feel as if they were the victims of workplace discrimination may want to meet with an attorney to see what their rights may be. As has been seen, the legal landscape has been changing, and an attorney can determine what steps should be initially taken.

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