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Is Sexual Orientation Discrimination Protected by Title VII?

The United States Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights has just announced its will be creating a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division. LGBTQ advocates worry that this will give greater leeway for people to discriminate. Unfortunately, statistics show that sexual orientation discrimination has gone up over the last year.  Further, although federal law protects against sex discrimination, whether members of the LGBTQ community are protected from discrimination at work is unsettled.

The EEOC has issued guidance stating that protections provided by federal law (Title VII of the Civil Rights of 1964 – Title VII) against sex discrimination extend to and include sexual orientation discrimination. Several federal appellate jurisdictions have supported this interpretation. However, other federal courts (including the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Georgia), have found that Title VII’s protections against sexual discrimination do not include protections against sexual orientation.

In December, arguments were heard before the Supreme Court in the Colorado bakery case, wherein a Colorado baker refused to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple for their wedding. While this case does not involve employment law, many believe it will shed light on how the court would interpret Title VII’s protections.

If you have suffered any form of discrimination it is important to stand up for your rights and fight back. Please contact our dedicated anti- discrimination lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew for an immediate, confidential case evaluation to learn more about your rights.
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