A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects LGBT employees from workplace discrimination, setting up a likely battle before the U.S. Supreme Court. The decision by the full 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago comes just three weeks after a three-judge panel in Atlanta ruled the opposite, saying employers AREN’T prohibited from discriminating against employees based on sexual orientation.
The case stems from a lawsuit by Indiana teacher Kimberly Hively alleging that the Ivy Tech Community College in South Bend didn’t hire her full time because she is a lesbian.
Hively said she agreed to bring the case because she felt she was being “bullied.” and told the A/P that the time has come,
“to stop punishing people for being gay, being lesbian, being transgender.”
Greg Nevins, Employment Fairness Program Director for Lambda Legal, which brought the case on behalf of Hively says,
“This decision is game changer for lesbian and gay employees facing discrimination in the workplace and sends a clear message to employers: it is against the law to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.“
The issue could in front of the U.S. Supreme Court at some point. The GOP-majority House and Senate make it VERY unlikely the Congress will amend the Civil Rights Act, which outlaws discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin and requires equal access to public places and employment.
Nevins pointed to what he described as the absurdity of a 80s Supreme Court finding that if workers are discriminated against because they don’t behave around the office by norms of how men or women should behave, then that does violate the Civil Rights Law. But if a man or woman is discriminated against at work for being gay that was found not to violate the Civil Rights Act. In other words as he put it,
“You can’t discriminate against a woman because she rides a Harley, had Bears tickets or has tattoos. But you can if she’s lesbian.”
All of this comes as Trump is setting new policies on LGBTQ rights. In January, the White House declared Trump would enforce an Obama administration order barring companies that do federal work from workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual identity. But in February, it revoked guidance on transgender students’ use of public school bathrooms, deferring to states.
(via LGBTQ Nation)