Sexual Orientation Discrimination Not Unlawful Under Title VII, U.S. Seventh Circuit Reaffirms

Employees and job applicants in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin are out of luck if they are claiming sexual orientation discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit-which covers those states–ruled last week that Title VII doesn’t cover that kind of discrimination.

The appeals court stuck to its prior rulings against extending the law’s prohibition against sex discrimination to cover sexual orientation discrimination.

In her ruling, Judge Ilana Rovner admitted the paradox that the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized same-sex marriage in all 50 states, yet there is no federal law outlawing sexual orientation discrimination in employment.

“The cases as they stand do, however, create a paradoxical legal landscape in which a person can be married on Saturday and then fired on Monday for just that act. For although federal law now guarantees anyone the right to marry another person of the same gender, Title VII, to the extent it does not reach sexual orientation discrimination, also allows employers to fire that employee for doing so,” the judge wrote.

The case is Kimberly Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College, South Bend, 15-1720.


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