Federal court rules that anti-gay workplace discrimination is covered by Civil Rights Act
A federal appeals court in the US has ruled that lesbian, gay and bisexual employees are protected against discrimination.
The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act already protects LGBT employees from being discriminated against.
The court on Tuesday went against a July ruling by three of its own judges that found that discrimination protections did not cover sexual orientation bias.
Later, a rehearing by the full court was ordered in a rare move.
A three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of the lawsuit against the Ivy Tech Community College in July.
The lawsuit was filed by Kimberly Hively of South Bend, a former Ivy Tech staff member, who says she was not hired by the college full-time because of her sexual orientation.
But the appeals court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act does not cover discrimination based on sexual orientation.
At the time, the panel criticised a lack of federal workplace protections against such discrimination.
Greg Nevins, Hively’s attorney, said at the time that she would consider her options in the case going forward.
“We are deeply disappointed in the 7th Circuit Court’s decision failing to join the growing consensus that existing civil rights law must reasonably be interpreted to include non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation,” said Human Rights Campaign’s Legal Director Sarah Warbelow.
“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 court’s decision makes the need even more urgent for Congress to pass the Equality Act, making explicitly and permanently clear that LGBTQ people are protected under our nation’s civil rights laws.”