Seventh Circuit Court Says Sexual Orientation Is a Protected Class

by Evil HR Lady on April 6, 2017

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

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim Grey April 6, 2017 at 3:14 pm

I went to high school with Kimberly Hively. Didn’t know her except in passing, but how often in one’s life does a landmark court decision involve someone with whom you are acquainted?

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Evil HR Lady April 6, 2017 at 5:56 pm

Woah. You’re like, famous.

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Elizabeth West April 6, 2017 at 3:28 pm

Yay! \0/

What does this mean? That you have to stop being a *squid*! I’m looking at you, Cracker Barrel!

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Jill April 6, 2017 at 4:49 pm

Is this one that applies only to companies of over 50 employees? Or can small businesses still use sexual orientation as a basis for legal discrimination?

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Evil HR Lady April 6, 2017 at 5:57 pm

Over 15 employees, just like race/gender/religion. But remember, this only applies to the 7th circuits. Other courts have ruled differently.

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grannybunny April 7, 2017 at 9:05 pm

For some time now, the EEOC has taken the position that the Title VII prohibition against discrimination “based on sex” includes sexual orientation and gender identity. From the employer standpoint, it would be “safer” to adopt a policy opposing such discrimination.

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mer April 7, 2017 at 12:21 pm

As long as a biological male, identifying as a heterosexual male is treated as equally as a transgendered male.

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