The Employer's Legal Resource: Supreme Court May Consider Sexual Orientation Claim Under Title VII
The much-disputed question of whether Title VII protects against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation may be primed to go before the United States Supreme Court. As we first told you about in our May newsletter, Jameka Evans worked as a hospital security guard and sued her former employer for allegedly discriminating against her because she was gay. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Title VII does not include sexual orientation as a protected characteristic. Earlier this month, a LGBT rights nonprofit announced it plans to appeal that decision on behalf of Evans, which means the Supreme Court could consider the issue as soon as early next year.
As it currently stands, there is a split among federal appellate courts regarding this issue. The Seventh Circuit recently ruled that Title VII's protection against discrimination on the basis of sex prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Like the Eleventh Circuit, the Second Circuit says no (for now – but oral argument is scheduled in September for the Second Circuit to reconsider its prior rulings).
Following Evans' appeal, the Supreme Court has discretion whether it decides to hear the case or not. But if the Court decides to take it on, it could mean a definitive resolution of the dispute regarding these protections for LGBT employees under federal law. Stay tuned.
By: Rebecca D. Bullard, RBullard@dsda.com