Hoge Partners, PLLC - Louisville, Kentucky - LGBTQ Family Law Issues

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Employment Discrimination and LGBTQ Individuals

The Washington Post reported on April 5, 2017 that the 7th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals had ruled the previous day on an discrimination claim against an employer who fired an individual because of his/her sexual orientation.

See the entire 69-page decision in Kimberly Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit, Case No. 15-1720.  Final Order entered April 4, 2017.

Why is this decision such a big deal?  Because, until April 4, 2017, employment discrimination because an employee was or was believed to be gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgendered or having a non-traditional heterosexual identity was perfectly legal in about half of the states in America.  There were no laws in the majority of our states against discriminating against someone because of sexual orientation!

The only exception to this would be if an individual city enacted local city ordinances protecting LGBTQ citizens from being fired from their employment.  This type of ordinance is in place in Jefferson County, Kentucky as well as a number of other communities throughout the Commonwealth.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful for employers subject to the Act to discriminate on the basis of a person’s “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin … .” 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2(a). For many years, the appellate courts of this country understood the prohibition against sex discrimination to exclude discrimination on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation. The Supreme Court, however, has never spoken to that question.

In the Hively v. Ivy Tech case, the 7th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals was asked to take a fresh look at the Court's position in light of developments at the Supreme Court extending over the past two decades. That Court on April 4, 2017 concluded that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination and reversed an Indiana district court’s judgment dismissing Kimberly Hively’s suit against Ivy Tech Community College and remanded the case for further proceedings.

The U.S. Court of Appeals is the highest court yet to decide this issue.

In other words, the 1964 Civil Rights Act applies to workers who are now protected on the basis of their sexual orientation.

Frankly, this seems to many to be a "no-brainer" question but it's very important to have this decision on the books.

"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."

See also the Chicago Tribune story from April 4, 2017:  "Civil Rights Act covers LGBTQ workplace bias".

The attorneys at Hoge Partners, PLLC fully understand the tremendous difficulties suffered by people who are discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.  Contact us if we can be of assistance to you.


Other LGBTQ Legal Issues:

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and non-heterosexual couples and individuals have other significant legal issues besides dependency, abuse and neglect cases, such as:

The attorneys at Hoge Partners, PLLC will be happy to talk to you about your legal options affected by gender identity and/or sexual orientation.  Call us today.