An appeals court for the first time has
ruled that workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation
violates existing law.
The full bench of the 7th
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on Tuesday ruled 8-3 that
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects workers from
discrimination based on sexual orientation.
According to Politico,
five of the eight justices in the court's majority were Republican
Judge Diane Wood wrote the court's
“A policy that discriminates on the
basis of sexual orientation does not affect every woman, or every
man, but it is based on assumptions about the proper behavior for
someone of a given sex,” Wood wrote. “The discriminatory
behavior does not exist without taking the victim’s biological sex
(either as observed at birth or as modified, in the case of
transsexuals) into account. Any discomfort, disapproval, or job
decision based on the fact that the complainant – woman or man –
dresses differently, speaks differently, or dates or marries a
same-sex partner, is a reaction purely and simply based on sex.”
“It is actually impossible to
discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without
discriminating on the basis of sex,” she added.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, applauded the decision.
“Today’s ruling is a monumental
victory for fairness in the workplace, and for the dignity of
lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans who may live in fear of losing
their job based on whom they love,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah
Warbelow. “This court joins five others that have ruled these laws
also prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity. We
congratulate plaintiff Kimberly Hively, Lambda Legal and all the
attorneys who helped achieve this victory.”
The ruling comes just three weeks after
a three-judge panel in Atlanta ruled that such protections do not
exist under current law.
court finds discrimination against gay workers allowed under existing
Kimberly Hively, an adjunct professor
at Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, claimed in her lawsuit that
she was denied a permanent teaching position because she is a