The Seventh Circuit court issued a landmark ruling that stated that sexual orientation falls under “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin” in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Supreme Court has not yet ruled on this, so the ruling only technically applies to people within the states of Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, but you should pay attention regardless of where you live.
JoLynn Markison a partner in at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney in its Labor & Employment Group explained what this means.
This Seventh Circuit decision departs from recent panel decisions by the Second and Eleventh Circuits, which concluded that Title VII does not protect employees on the basis of sexual orientation. Rehearings en banc of the Second and Eleventh Circuit decisions are still possible, which would result in all of the judges of those Circuits reviewing this issue. Given the split between Circuits, we may see the Supreme Court taking up this issue in the near future.
Employers outside the Seventh Circuit would do well to heed the Hively decision, and should consider updating their policies to exclude discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The Seventh Circuit acknowledged a decade-long trend of Supreme Court decisions protecting the rights of LGBT citizens.
To keep reading, click here: Seventh Circuit Court Says Sexual Orientation Is a Protected Class