U.S. Supreme Court Denies Review in Case that Sought to Resolve Title VII Patchwork

By Adam Polaski • December 11, 2017 • 9:53 am
 Today the United States Supreme Court denied review of Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, a potentially landmark case dealing with workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. The case, brought by Lambda Legal, concerns a Georgia security guard – Jameka Evans – who was harassed, assaulted, denied equal pay and equal work, and eventually forced to leave her job because of her sexual orientation.
Supreme Court Denies Review of Title VII Case

The case was particularly significant in its potential scope and impact on the landscape for LGBTQ rights, as it asked the Supreme Court to recognize that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, also prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit – which holds jurisdiction over Georgia, Florida, and Alabama – said in a split decision earlier this year that it does not. The dissenting judge wrote, “It is time that we as a court recognized that Title VII prohibits discrimination based on an employee’s sexual orientation since that is discrimination ‘because of . . . sex.'”

The 7th Circuit, in a separate case, affirmed the opposite, arguing that sexual orientation discrimination is a violation of federal law under Title VII.
With the Evans case denied, attention in the courts turns to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, where a decision in pending in Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., a similar case about a gay man who was fired for his sexual orientation. The full 2nd Circuit heard the case en banc in September.
Freedom for All Americans CEO Masen Davis said today:
“The Supreme Court’s decision not to hear Evans is a disappointing, missed opportunity to address the split among federal appellate courts and clarify that discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation is illegal under current law. In today’s society, it seems nothing can be a clearer example of sex stereotyping than discriminating against a woman like Jameka because she does not date men or dress in a traditionally feminine manner. Employees should be judged only on their work performance and never singled out based on who they are or who they love.”
In October, FFAA helped recruit more than 75 businesses – a record number – who added their names to a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Supreme Court to review the case. The businesses included AirBnB, Apple, Ben & Jerry’s, Carnival Cruise, Deutsche Bank, Eastern Bank, Google, Levi Strauss & Co., LinkedIn, Lyft, Mastercard, Miami Heat, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, PayPal, RBC Bank, Salesforce, Starbucks, Tampa Bay Rays, Trillium Asset Management, Viacom, and more.

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