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Monday, March 13, 2017

Ind. Courts - 11th Circuit panel rules: Discrimination against gay workers not prohibited

From WHIO (Dayton, OH), this AP story by Kate Brumback:

ATLANTA — In a setback for gay rights advocates hoping for an expansion of workplace discrimination protections, a federal appeals court in Atlanta has ruled that employers aren't prohibited from discriminating against employees because of sexual orientation.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday ruled 2-1 that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits workplace discrimination based on a variety of factors, doesn't protect against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The case was one of two that Lambda Legal had pending before federal appeals courts — along with an Indiana case at the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago — that the LGBT rights group had hoped would mark a significant step forward for gay rights. [ILB: That would be Hively] * * *

In a similar case, a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago in July upheld a lower court's dismissal of a 2014 lawsuit filed by Kimberly Hively of South Bend, Indiana, a former part-time instructor who said Ivy Tech Community College in her hometown didn't hire her full time because she is a lesbian.

The full 7th Circuit vacated that panel's decision, and all 11 of the court's judges reheard the case in November. The ruling has not yet been announced, but several of the judges seemed to signal during oral arguments that they were ready to broaden the scope of the 53-year-old civil rights law.

Lambda Legal attorneys said they plan to ask the 11th Circuit to vacate the Evans ruling and have the full 11-judge court rehear the case, like the 7th Circuit did in the Hively case.

"This is not the end of the road for us and certainly not for Jameka," attorney Greg Nevins said in an emailed statement. "There is no way to draw a line between sexual orientation discrimination and discrimination based on gender nonconformity because not being straight is gender-nonconforming, period."

And here is a long report by Bill Rankin of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Some quotes:
Federal law does not prohibit employers from discriminating against workers because they are lesbian or gay, an Atlanta appeals court has ruled.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 ruling issued Friday, denied the LGBT community what could have been a landmark court victory. Instead, the court declined to expand workplace protections to gays and lesbians under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which already prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion and national origin.

The decision sparked pointed exchanges between dissenting Judge Robin Rosenbaum, an appointee of President Barack Obama, and Judge Bill Pryor, the former Alabama attorney general who was recently on President Donald Trump’s short list to fill a U.S. Supreme Court vacancy. In his concurring opinion, Pryor drew a distinction between being gay and behaving as a gay person might. That is, homosexuals are not a protected class under the law, but they may not be discriminated against because of the way they dress or the way they behave. In her dissent, Rosenbaum ridiculed that argument as a “defiance of logic.” * * *

In her dissent, Rosenbaum wrote: “There is no way to draw a line between sexual orientation discrimination and discrimination based on gender nonconformity, because not being straight is gender-nonconforming, period.”

ILB: The case is Jameka Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital. Here is the 55-page opinion, issued 3/10/17.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 13, 2017 04:36 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions