The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan revived Matthew Christiansen’s lawsuit against Omnicom Group Inc. and drawing fresh scrutiny to the boundaries for defining gender discrimination claims in federal courts.
As mentioned in US News, Christiansen’s lawsuit alleged he was discriminated against because he was HIV-positive and because he failed to conform to gender stereotypes. He had asserted he was harassed in part because he was perceived by his supervisor at DDB Worldwide Communications Group Inc. in 2011 to be effeminate and submissive. DDB Worldwide is an international advertising agency and subsidiary of Omnicom.
2nd Circuit Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann said “carving out gender stereotypes related to sexual orientation ignores the fact that negative views of sexual orientation are often, if not always, rooted in the idea that men should be exclusively attracted to women and women should be exclusively attracted to men — as clear a gender stereotype as any. Thus, in my view, if gay, lesbian, or bisexual plaintiffs can show that they were discriminated against for failing to comply with some gender stereotype, including the stereotype that men should be exclusively attracted to women and women should be exclusively attracted to men, they have made out a cognizable sex discrimination claim.”