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Litigation Tracker: Eighth Circuit

Covers Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota

Outdated case law in the circuit has found that discrimination based on sexual orientation does not violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

  • In a June 2, 1989 ruling in Williamson v. A.G. Edwards and Sons, the 8th Circuit wrote simply, “Title VII does not prohibit discrimination against homosexuals.”

Outdated case law in the circuit has found that discrimination based on gender identity does not violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. However, existing case law has positively referenced the connection between sex discrimination and discrimination based on gender identity:

  • On January 8, 1982 the 8th Circuit ruled in Sommers v. Budget Marketing Inc. that Title VII does not protect people from discrimination based on gender identity. The circuit court wrote, “Because Congress has not shown an intention to protect transsexuals, we hold that discrimination based on one’s transsexualism does not fall within the protective purview of the Act. … For the purposes of Title VII the plain meaning must be ascribed to the term “sex” in absence of clear congressional intent to do otherwise.”
  • On September 17, 2012 in Hunter v. United Parcel Serv., the 8th Circuit did not explicitly rule that employment discrimination against a transgender person was not actionable under Title VII. Rather, the Circuit found that there was not sufficient evidence that a prospective employer knew or perceived that the plaintiff in the job interview was transgender, and so no claims of sex discrimination could be established. 
  • On May 24, 2017, the 8th Circuit ruled in Tovar v. Essentia Health, the case of a nurse practitioner in Minnesota claiming discrimination based on gender identity because her insurance company would not cover her transgender child under her health insurance. The court ruled that Tovar lacked standing to pursue the claims of discrimination because she could not file suit on behalf of her child. However, in its ruling the 8th Circuit wrote, “Because the district court concluded that Tovar is not within the class of plaintiffs for whom Title VII and the MHRA create causes of action, we assume for purposes of this appeal that the prohibition of sex-based discrimination under Title VII and the MHRA encompasses protection for transgender individuals.”


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Eighth Circuit

Walsh & Nance v. Friendship Village of South County

Case Concerning Housing Discrimination

Key Date: May 29, 2019 • Case Put On Hold Pending SCOTUS Resolution in Title VII Cases
Status: Pending before 8th Circuit
Legal Team: NCLR, ACLU of Missouri
Type: Housing Discrimination

Married couple Mary Walsh and Bev Nance sought housing at the Friendship Village of South County , a senior housing community in St. Louis, Missouri. Friendship Village told Walsh and Nance that it would not accept them as residents because it followed the “Biblical definition” of marriage and “defined marriage as between a man and a woman.” Friendship Village is not affiliated with or operated by any religion or religious order, is open to the public, and does not inquire about the religious beliefs or affiliations of residents.

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Horton v. Midwest Geriatric Management, LLC.

Case Concerning Employment Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation Under Title VII

Key Date: April 25, 2019 • Case Put On Hold Pending SCOTUS Resolution in Title VII Cases
Status: Pending before 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
Legal Team: Private Counsel & Lambda Legal
Type: Employment Discrimination

After Mark applied for, interviewed, was offered, and accepted a job at Midwest Geriatric, LLC, the job offer was rescinded, following his disclosure to management that he was married to a man. 

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