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Gay employee who claims discrimination by US aviation authority lodges federal lawsuit

Gay employee who claims discrimination by US aviation authority lodges federal lawsuit

David Baldwin says he was passed over for promotion because of anti-gay bias

The man who prompted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in the US to make its landmark ruling on anti-gay discrimination falling under the remit of current civil rights laws has taken the next step in attempting to obtain a federal ruling.

David Baldwin alleges that he faced anti-gay bias while working at a government agency: the Federal Aviation Administration in Miami. Baldwin says that he was passed over for promotion at Miami Tower Terminal Radar Approach Control because of his sexual orientation.

He says that people less qualified than him received promotions and that his supervisor made disparaging remarks concerning his sexuality. In one instance, he says that he mentioned that his partner prepared his packed lunch for him each day. His supervisor said the ‘comment was inappropriate’ and to ‘get out of the radar room with that kind of talk.’

As there is no federal law in the US specifically protecting LGBTI people from discrimination in the workplace, Baldwin first took his case to the EEOC. It ruled 16 July that discrimination based on sexual orientation was already prohibited under the sex discrimination provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In other words, if a man is discriminated against because he finds other men attractive it can be regarded as a form of sex discrimination – because if he were a woman he would not face the same discrimination.

At the time, American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT Project Director James Esseks called the decision ‘a monumental step forward’ in the fight for basic civil rights protections for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.

Baldwin’s name was redacted from the EEOC ruling, but the 57-year-old – who is now a resident of New Orleans with his partner of the past seven years – chose to reveal himself in an interview with the Washington Blade.

Following the EEOC ruling, Baldwin had 90 days to decide whether to take the case to Federal Court.

He filed in motion in federal court in Miami on 13 October against Anthony Foxx, Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation, and Michael P. Huerta, Administrator Federal Aviation Authority.

Baldwin’s lawyer, Lowell Kuvin, told Buzzfeed this week that the outcome of the case, in the absence of any Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), could have far reaching consequences for many LGBT Americans.

‘Mr. Baldwin’s case has the ability to affect more people than the [Supreme] Court’s Obergefell [marriage] case because there are more gay men and women who have jobs than same-sex couples who want to get married.’

‘While the decision by the EEOC in Baldwin v. Foxx was a giant step forward for extinguishing sexual orientation discrimination by allowing federal employees to pursue sexual orientation claim under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title VII, it was just a small step forward for non-government employees.

‘The next logical step for Mr. Baldwin, who would like to see the protection of Title VII extended to non-government employees alleging sexual orientation discrimination, was to bring the issue to the federal courts.’

In a statement to Gay Star Business, David Baldwin said, ‘I never wanted any special consideration, I simply wanted the same rights and considerations, and to be covered under existing laws, the same as everyone else. Nothing more, nothing less. It just seems so fundamental and basic, and it’s time has finally come.’

Baldwin’s federal lawsuit can be viewed here:

The Federal Aviation Administration told Gay Star Business that it does not comment on pending legislation. The Department of Transportation has been approached for comment.

H/T: Buzzfeed