LGBT Employees Protected By Federal Civil Rights Act, Appeals Court Rules

The full 7th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a landmark ruling on Tuesday that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects LGBT employees from workplace discrimination.

Judge Richard Posner, an appointee of former president Ronald Reagan, a Republican, said expansion of anti-discrimination protections was warranted because society now considers sexual orientation an innate part of a person, just as gender is.

In so doing, the full appeals court overruled a decision by a smaller panel of its judges to uphold the district court's decision in the college's favor.

U.S. Rep. Linda T. Sánchez, D-Calif., vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus and vice-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus, said, "The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the right of all Americans to be able to work freely without discrimination based on their sexual orientation".

An appeals court in Chicago ruled this week that a 1964 Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQ workers from discrimination.

"While the court made its decision based on what it viewed as precedent, it did make clear however that there is no coherent basis for excluding sexual orientation from other types of sex discrimination claims".

The case arises over a suit brought by Kimberly Hively against her former employer, Ivy Tech Community College of IN in South Bend.

Hively claims that had she been a man married to, dating or living with a woman, and all other circumstances were the same, Ivy Tech would not have refused to promote her nor fired her, Wood said in her opinion.

Last week brought bad news for the LGBT community, thanks to President Donald Trump's decision to revoke an Obama-era order which had forced contractors doing business with the federal government to have complied with federal laws banning anti-LGBT discrimination for at least three years. In January President Trump promised not to revoke President Obama's executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against workers due to their sexual orientation or identity, but last week Trump quietly rolled back some of those protections.

Judge Wood also noted that the decision did not resolve how Title VII should be interpreted in a sexual orientation case involving a religious employer or one in the public sector. In this case, we have been asked to take a fresh look at our position in light of developments at the Supreme Court extending over two decades. We desperately need you on the Supreme Court in a hurry. "That means that it falls within Title VII's prohibition against sex discrimination". "But we're not authorized to amend Title VII by interpretation".

Teacher Kimberly Hively alleged Ivy Tech Community College in South Bend, Ind., denied her a full-time job because she is a lesbian. That's frequently left the deciding vote to moderate Justice Anthony Kennedy, including when he cast the decisive vote in a 2015 ruling that gave same-sex couples the right under federal law to marry.

Trump hasn't yet tweeted about the Seventh Circuit's ruling, but the GOP must be steamed that the court chose not to leave the issue up to Congress, so that they might provide a more precisely worded law.

  • Larry Hoffman