Appeals Court to Rehear Case That Could Determine if Current Civil Rights Law Protects Gay Workers


'If I Had Been a Man Attracted to Women, I Truly Believe I Would Have Been Offered a Full-Time Position and Given Promotions'

The full 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to hear a case that could determine if existing federal civil rights law already protects gay, lesbian, an bisexual workers from sex discrimination in workplace cases. A three-judge panel of the court earlier this summer had ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect lesbian, gay, and bisexual people from workplace based sex discrimination.

The 7th Circuit, in agreeing to hear the case, as Buzzfeed's Chris Geidner reports, "vacated the three-judge panel’s opinion and judgment from July." 

Geidner notes the issue "has been percolating in the lower courts in recent years, but this will be the first time a full federal appeals court is due to consider the issue en banc in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of marriage equality in June 2015."

The case itself was brought by Lambda Legal for its client, Kimberly Hively (photo), who "was denied full-time employment at Ivy Tech Community College in South Bend, Indiana, six different times and eventually terminated because she is a lesbian, the national LGBT rights legal organization notes. 

“I am delighted that I will have my day in court, and hopeful that the judges will see that I was treated unfairly because I am a lesbian,” Kimberly Hively said in a statement. “If I had been a man attracted to women, I truly believe I would have been offered a full-time position and given promotions. Today’s decision gives me hope – hope for me, and for all other LGBT teachers, that we will not have to suffer the same unfair bias in the future.”

In December a federal court ruled that "claims of sexual orientation discrimination are gender stereotype or sex discrimination claims."

And in July of 2015, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, while not a court, found gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in employment cases. Earlier, in 2104, then-Attorney General Eric Holder stated the Civil Rights Act Of 1964 covers transgender people.


Image via Lambda Legal