The stage is now set for the Supreme Court to resolve gay rights at work


That according to Lambda Legal, a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of the LGBT community.

From last week’s Lambda Legal press release:

Lambda Legal announced it will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit denied its en banc petition asking that the full Court rehear the case of Jameka Evans, a security guard who was harassed at work and effectively terminated from her job because she is a lesbian and doesn’t conform to gender norms in her appearance and demeanor.

Well, allegedly harassed.

The Eleventh Circuit’s decision not to rehear Ms. Evans’ case comes as somewhat of a surprise. Several hundred miles north in New York, the Second Circuit had previously agreed to reconsider whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 covers discrimination based on sexual orientation. (My money’s on “yes.”) And, after similar reconsideration, the Seventh Circuit held that it did too.

Here in the Third Circuit, we have a strange conundrum. There’s Bibby v. Philadelphia Coca Cola Bottling Co. in which the appellate court held that Title VII does not cover discrimination based on sexual orientation. Subsequently, however, a federal judge from the Western District of PA threw a big wet blanket on Bibby, and concluded that Title VII does protect gay and lesbian employees.

Suffice it to say, we have a split across the country.

So, will the U.S. Supreme Court agree to weigh in? I’d be shocked if they didn’t. (Unless this case somehow provides enough fodder to resolve the issue first).

In the meantime, don’t forget that sex stereotyping is unlawful under both state and federal law. Also, many state and local laws expressly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Plus, even if you operate in an area without any such laws, you’re free to implement workplace policies prohibiting LGBT discrimination.


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