Jeff Sessions, Trump's pick to head up the Department of Justice, has a lot of things on his plate — an opioid crisis, Dreamers to deport, disaster fraud after three major hurricanes, investigating people who don't like Trump, trying a woman who laughed at him, and so on. 

So naturally, the Department of Justice now seems to be picking a new fight nobody is really asking for. The DOJ is saying that employers have the right to fire people for being gay

That's right, Justice Department attorney Hashim Mooppan got up in front of 13 Court of Appeals judges and argued that "Employers under Title VII are permitted to consider employees' out-of-work sexual conduct."

"There is a commonsense, intuitive difference between sex and sexual orientation," he continued.

Advertisement

The case in question involves a former skydiving instructor who sued his employer over his termination.

The case in question involves a former skydiving instructor who sued his employer over his termination.
Reddit |  ShotBot

Donald Zarda says that he told a customer he was gay, and when she complained, his company, Altitude Express, fired him.

For some reason, the federal government decided to lend its weight to Altitude Express in the case. We literally don't know why. When asked by the judges, Hashim said, "It's not appropriate for me to comment." 

They weren't even asked to weigh in by Altitude Express. They just kind of showed up. 

The government's argument is all about the Civil Rights Act of 1964, specifically Title VII, which bans workplace discrimination based on sex, race, religion, or national origin.

So no, sexual orientation isn't explicitly in there, but the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which actually enforces Title VII, has been using it to protect LGBT workers for years. In fact, they're arguing against the DOJ in the same case. As Judge Rosemary Pooler said in the case, "We love to hear from the federal government, but it's a bit awkward to hear from them on both sides." 

Advertisement

So this case bears watching. This one could easily end up before the Supreme Court, at which point we would finally get an explicit, clear ruling as to whether it's okay for employers to discriminate against people for being gay or not.

via GIPHY

And it sure sounds like Sessions' DOJ thinks it is.

Advertisement

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!