7th Circuit Rules to Protect LGBT Employees Against Employment Discrimination

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Apr 05, 2017

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that LGBT employees are protected from workplace discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This decision is the first appellate court to protect LGBT employees under Title VII.

Kim Hivley, a former Indiana community college professor, claimed she was denied promotions and laid off from her job because she is a lesbian. Hively was seen kissing her girlfriend goodbye on campus in 2009 and was immediately reprimanded the next day by an administrator for “unprofessional behavior.” Five years after the incident, Hively was laid off.

Title VII protects employees from workplace discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Eight of the eleven judges ruling on the matter agreed that Title VII also prevents employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. The majority ruled that Hively did not conform to “the female stereotype” and that her claim was no different than other claims brought by women who “were rejected for jobs in traditionally male workplaces.” The majority judges found that “sex” and “sexual orientation” discrimination were synonymous.

The case will now return to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana for further proceedings consistent with the Seventh Circuit’s holding.

If you have any questions about discrimination based on sex or any other employment matter, please do not hesitate to contact the Lowenbaum Law Employment Team.

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