On January 17, 2017, the Second Circuit heard oral argument (audio here) in the case of Christiansen v. Omnicom Group.
This is an appeal of Southern District of New York Judge Lori Failla’s Opinion and Order in Christiansen v. Omnicom Group Inc., 15-cv-3440, 167 F. Supp. 3d 598 (SDNY March 9, 2016), which dismissed plaintiff’s sexual orientation discrimination claim asserted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. [I wrote about the decision here.]
In reaching its decision, the court cited the Second Circuit’s decision in Simonton v. Runyon, 232 F.3d 33 (2d Cir. 2000), and noted that that case “unequivocally held that Title VII does not proscribe discrimination based on sexual orientation.” Judge Failla noted, however, that “[t]he broader legal landscape has undergone significant changes” since the Simonton decision (including the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges), and cited an EEOC decision, Baldwin v. Foxx, EEOC Appeal No. 0120133080 (July 15, 2015), which found that claims for sexual orientation are cognizable under Title VII. (The EEOC’s decision is, of course, not binding on federal courts.)
The Second Circuit’s decision in this case will quite possibly set the stage for a Supreme Court showdown.