In 2001, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals decided Bibby v. Philadelphia Coca Cola Bottling Co. In Bibby, the Third Circuit could not have been clearer about whether federal anti-discrimination law made LGBT bias at work unlawful.
“Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Congress has repeatedly rejected legislation that would have extended Title VII to cover sexual orientation.”
That’s binding precedent on all lower federal courts in Pennsylvania.
Except, on Friday, Judge Cathy Bissoon from the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania concluded EEOC v. Scott Medical (opinion here) that Bibby is questionable, outdated jurisprudence.
As a corollary to yesterday’s post about David Lopez stepping down as EEOC General Counsel —
*** Googles “corollary” — swish! ***
— I bring you news of two recent court decisions advancing LGBT rights at work.
I teased it in Friday’s post.
Last week, a Michigan federal court held (here) that a workplace dress code that requires one gender to conform to a sex stereotype (e.g., men must wear suits, and women must wear dresses) is “direct evidence” of sex discrimination. But, the employer in the Michigan case refused to waver from the letter of the dress code, and avoided a sex discrimination claim under Title VII.
Why? Because Hobby Lobby.
Just for today, head on over to LinkedIn, and check out my post about how strict application of your dress code could result in a nasty sex discrimination claim.
(And a little teaser for Monday — I’ll explain why the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision may trump Title VII and allow some employers to discriminate).
The lede comes directly from last Thursday’s much anticipated decision, in which the Seventh Circuit concluded in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College (opinion here) that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal workplace anti-discrimination statute, does not protect workers from discrimination based on LGBT status.
According to Chris Geidner at Buzzfeed.com (here), 128 members of Congress filed a brief in Christiansen v. Omnicom Group, Inc., urging the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to conclude the discrimination based on sexual orientation is sex discrimination and, therefore, violates Title VII.
So, yes, you should pay attention.