Jenni Rudolph is a Los Angeles-based songwriter and musician specializing in pop, R&B, and funk music.

Importance of <em>Altitude Express v. Zarda</em>

On a national scale, we are experiencing one of the toughest moments in history. But, we must also reflect upon the achievements made within the past month. On Monday, June 15, the Supreme Court made a landmark 6-3 decision in the case of Altitude Express v. Zarda (2020) ruling that employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

The facts of the case are as follows: In 2010, a gay man named Donald Zarda worked as a skydiving instructor at Altitude Express. He revealed his sexual orientation to the female client in an attempt to alleviate any concerns with regards to having a male instructor given that there is close contact in skydiving. After the skydiving trip, the female client accused Zarda of sexually harassing her and claimed that Zarda used his sexual orientation as an excuse to perform such actions. Zarda was immediately fired to which he filed a lawsuit against the company claiming that his termination was on the basis of his sexual orientation. In this case, the Justices had to answer whether sexual orientation is covered in Title VII, which protects employees from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Given that Title VII never explicitly states sexual orientation as one of the domains of protection, the Justices had to interpret if sexual orientation was included in the phrase “because of … sex” (Express v. Zarda, 2020). 

With Justice Neil Gorsuch writing the majority opinion, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Zarda claiming that Title VII protects individuals from sexual orientation and/or gender identity-based discrimination. They argued that sexual orientation and/or gender identity-based discrimination would require the employer to treat the individual differently based on their sex first and foremost, which is most certainly covered in Title VII. Dissenters included Justices Alito, Kavanaugh, and Thomas. They claimed that sexual orientation and/or gender identity-based discrimination is not protected in Title VII, and interpretations that it does is far from what legislators had in mind. Justice Kavanaugh claimed that such interpretations were made to fit the circumstances of the present day. This particular argument is indicative of the traditionalist ideals of conservative-leaning Justices and their desire to remain stagnant. 

Nevertheless, this decision was a huge win for the LGBTQ+ community as these protections granted to cisgender, heterosexual individuals were finally applied to them. On behalf of the Overachiever Magazine staff, we are thrilled that our fellow Asian American Pacific Islander LGBTQ+ folx will be able to obtain jobs without the fear of being discriminated against. We will always stand in solidarity with you.

The struggles and experiences of Asian American Pacific Islander LGBTQ+ folx are still a discussion topic that many of our communities shy away from. According to a Philanthropy Outlook infographic, “As of March 2015, LGBTQ AAPI individuals experience unemployment at twice the U.S. national rate” (“LGBTQ Asian American…,” 2015, p. 1). This is an alarming indicator of the discriminatory behavior perpetrated by employers. These are the conversations that need to be pushed to the forefront. With this decision, we can only hope those unemployment rates will decrease. In addition, this decision reflects the beginning steps towards the direction of queer and transgender liberation. There is still so much work that needs to be done to reach that point, but we must pause and reflect upon the gravity of this moment in history.  

For those who may be experiencing workplace discrimination and want to file charges, please visit the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s website here for more information. In 2014, the petitioner, in this case, Donald Zarda, passed away from a base-jumping accident. We owe this landmark decision to him and other pioneers in the LGBTQ+ community who have fought tirelessly for another layer of protection to be applied to their community. 

Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.

Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.

We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.

You can find announcements, more news, and get to know our staff on social media: give us a follow, and learn how you can get involved today!

We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.

We hope you’ll join us.

My Cart Close (×)

Your cart is empty
Browse Shop