7th Circuit Extends Title VII Protection to Sexual Orientation
In Hively v. Ivy Community College of Indiana (7th Cir. 2017) an en banc decision characterized as “momentous” by the dissent, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit holds that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex covers claims of employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. This holding has previously been rejected by other courts, although the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has advocated for this coverage for several years. The Hively decision means that nearly all employers within the geographical jurisdiction of the 7th Cir. (Illinois, Indiana and part of Wisconsin) cannot refuse to hire, promote or otherwise discriminate against gays, lesbians and presumably transgender individuals. There are decisions rejecting this holding in other jurisdictions. The issue is likely to be decided some day by the U.S. Supreme Court, whose current composition would be likely to uphold with the Hively decision. April 5, 2017.