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U.S. Supreme Court Refuses Appeal Of LGBT Lambda Legal Employment Discrimination Case

From Lambda Legal:

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will not review the Lambda Legal case on behalf of Jameka Evans, a Savannah security guard who was harassed at work and forced from her job because she is a lesbian.

“By declining to hear this case, the Supreme Court is delaying the inevitable and leaving a split in the circuits that will cause confusion across the country,” said Greg Nevins, Employment Fairness Project Director for Lambda Legal.

Several federal courts have affirmed the argument that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, when properly understood, protects LGBT employees. Most notably, the full Seventh Circuit overruled four of its precedents and ruled in April that Lambda Legal client Kimberly Hively could proceed under the Civil Rights Act with her claim that Indiana-based Ivy Tech Community College discriminated against her because she is a lesbian.

In April of 2015, Evans filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia against her former employer, Georgia Regional Hospital, arguing that the hospital violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by discriminating against her because of her sexual orientation and her nonconformity with gender norms of appearance and demeanor.

The district court dismissed the case. In January of last year, Lambda Legal filed an appeal on Evans’ behalf, arguing that she must have her day in court, citing rulings by several federal district courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) finding that sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination and thereby a prohibited employment practice.

On March 10, 2017, a three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit held that it was compelled by a 1979 ruling to reject Evans’ sexual orientation discrimination claim.

Lambda Legal asked the whole court to rehear the case so that it could reexamine the 1979 precedent, but unlike the Seventh Circuit and Second Circuit, the full Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals declined to rehear the case on July 6. Citing a clear conflict among the circuits, Lambda Legal filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case. Today, the Supreme Court denied review.

Evans is part of Lambda Legal’s efforts to establish and enforce employment discrimination protection for all LGBT people and everyone living with HIV. 

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