A decision by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on Tuesday may signal a new day in the fight for equality in the workplace for LGBT employees. In an 8 to 3 decision, the court agreed that workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The case involves Kim Hively, a former Indiana community college teacher claiming she was denied promotions and ultimately fired from her job because she is a lesbian, after she was seen kissing her girlfriend goodbye in the park. Hively’s “unprofessional behavior” of “sucking face” lead to the administrative actions.
According to an article from The Chicago Tribune,
“It’s really good to know that it’s making some headway,” said Hively, who now works as a high school math teacher in Indiana. “I always thought there was a big disconnect when they legalized gay marriage but didn’t extend any protections against workplace or housing discrimination. What they’re doing is allowing people to lose jobs and homes just because they fell in love.”
“Viewed through the lens of the gender non-conformity line of cases, Hively represents the ultimate case of failure to conform to the female stereotype,” chief judge Diane P. Wood wrote for the majority. “Hively’s claim is no different from the claims brought by women who were rejected for jobs in traditionally male workplaces, such as fire departments, construction, and policing.”
“Now that we see this in the right light, I think we’ll see a domino effect (court by court),” [Gregory]Nevins [of Lambda Legal] said. “All of those cases ruled in the last 15 or 30 years, that’s a moot point. It’s a new day.”