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Supreme Court declines to hear LGBT job discrimination case

[JURIST] The U.S. Supreme Court [official website] on Monday declined to hear [orders list, PDF] an appeal from Jameka Evans, a Georgia security guard who claims that she was harassed and ultimately forced to quit her job because she is s a lesbian.

Evans argued that sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 [text]. Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on a number of factors, including sex. The question presented in the Evans appeal, among other cases, is whether this law covers discrimination based on somebody's sexual orientation. Courts are split on the issue. She was unsuccessful [opinion, PDF] in advancing this claim at the Eleventh Circuit and the US District Court for the Southern District of Georgia [official websites]. The Supreme Court's decision not to hear the case leaves the Eleventh Circuit's ruling in place.

President Obama's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission previously took the view [NYT report] that the act covers discrimination based on sexual orientation. In 2017, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] ruled the same, in the landmark case Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College [JURIST report]. In that case, Kimberly Hively alleged that she was repeatedly denied promotions and that her part-time contract was not renewed because of her sexual orientation. The court found that, "if discriminating against an employee because she is homosexual is equivalent to discriminating against her because she is (A) a woman who is (B) sexually attracted to women, then it is motivated, in part, by an enumerated trait: the employee's sex." They concluded that this violated Title VII.

President Donald Trump's administration has argued [Reuters report] that Title VII prohibits discrimination based on sex, but not sexual orientation.

Similar cases are in play in lower courts, including a pending Second Circuit case [JURIST report] involving a New York skydiving instructor who alleged he was fired because he was gay.

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