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Sexual Orientation Workplace Discrimination May Be Heard By Supreme Court Soon

Posted by Athena M. Herman | Jul 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

Workplace discrimination comes in many forms. In accordance with Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights act, employers are prohibited from committing discriminatory actions against employees on the basis of the worker's sex, race, color, national origin or religion. Whether this legislation protects the rights of LGBTQ employees on their prospective workplaces currently depends on the discretion of a judge and the jurisdiction in which a case is brought. But that may all change in the event that the Supreme Court decides to view what could be a landmark case for LGBTQ employees.

Jameka Evans worked as a security guard at the Georgia Regional Hospital in Savannah, Georgia in 2015. In her lawsuit filed that same year, she alleges that she was constantly harassed and ultimately fired for being a lesbian. Evans stated in her complaint that her refusal to conform to gender norms - by not behaving or dressing like a woman in a way that is socially acceptable - is what caused her employers to mistreat her.

The first time she decided to bring a case, it was dismissed by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. The court concluded that Title VII does not reference sexual orientation. Outraged by the decision, Evans attorney's appealed the lower court's decision to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the city of Atlanta. In turn, the appeals court denied a petition to reconsider her claims and dismissed the case altogether. But Evans hasn't given up, she and her attorneys are planning on taking the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Lambda Legal, a non-profit LGBTQ legal advocacy group, is representing Evan. The group's argument is that gender identification and sexual orientation falls under the realm of sex discrimination, which is listed in Title VII legislation. The legal group's director, Greg Nevins, claims that the 11th Circuit's decision to not revisit the case “came as a big surprise” to him. This is due to a similar case that was brought a few months prior by the organization, where an appeals court in Chicago concluded that the civil rights law does, in fact, prohibit discriminatory actions on the basis of sexual assault. Nevins says that although there is a possibility that the Supreme Court may not decide to review the case, he believes that it has a good chance. The decision of whether it will be reviewed or rejected will be made in the next couple of months.

“It's a compelling case for the Supreme Court to step in and correct this uncertainty in the law that hurts employers and employees,” Nevin said. He believes that if the case is taken and the Supreme Court rules in Evan's favor, the decision would coincide with "what America already thinks is the law, and American expects to be the law."

Experienced Employment Discrimination Attorneys

If you have experienced discrimination in the workplace, you should consult with an experienced attorney who is ready to fight for your rights and advocate for you. Contact the skilled attorneys at Benassi & Benassi for a consultation today.

About the Author

Athena M. Herman

Athena M. Herman practices in the areas of employment discrimination law, general employment law, and civil rights law...

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Practice Areas

Workers’ Compensation
Motor Vehicle Accident
Family Law/Dissolution
Personal Injury/Nursing Home Negligence/Medical Malpractice
Sexual Harassment and Hostile Work Environment

Practice Areas

Employment Discrimination
Retaliation claims and Whistleblower in the Workplace
Class Action Lawsuit and Multi-Plaintiff Cases
Civil Rights Litigation
Employment Law

Awards