Appellate Court Reviewing Whether Title VII Protects Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination

In a case that could have far-reaching impact on the LGBT community, a federal court is considering whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends to discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The case involves a female math teacher from Indiana who asserts that she was denied promotions and was ultimately fired because she is gay.  She was initially reprimanded after a co-worker saw her kiss her girlfriend goodbye in a parking lot.  At the time, she was an adjunct professor at Ivy Tech Community College.  Following that incident, she was treated differently at the college, was never granted full-time status, and was eventually let go.

Kimberly Hivey brought the sex discrimination case against the college in August 2014.  However, the North District of Indiana court dismissed her claim in March of 2015, stating that the protections against sex discrimination provided by Title VII does not include sexual orientation discrimination. A panel of three 7th circuit judges upheld the ruling, but the full appellate court vacated the decision in October, voting to rehear the matter.

At this week’s rehearing, an attorney representing Ms. Hivey argued that discriminating against one’s sex and discriminating against one’s sexual orientation are the same thing, and asked judges to broaden the interpretation of the law.

As Atlanta employment discrimination lawyers, our firm is dedicated to protecting workers from discrimination.  For more information, or if you believe you have suffered any form of workplace discrimination, please contact the experienced Georgia discrimination lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.