Is it illegal to discriminate against employees for their sexual orientation in the United States?
Different Circuits; Different Rulings
The question of sexual orientation discrimination has been answered different ways by different circuit courts. On April 4, 2017, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Title VII prohibits sexual orientation discrimination, the first appellate court to rule in this way. The court’s reasoning was that treating people differently due to their orientation is tantamount to gender stereotyping, which has been prohibited in the workplace since the Price Waterhouse, Inc. v. Hopkins ruling back in 1989.
The Eleventh Circuit, however, ruled differently in the case of Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital. That case is still making its way through the appellate system. Another case under appeal, Zarda v. Altitude Express, came about after an appellant sued his employer for alleged sexual orientation discrimination. The Second Circuit has agreed to review his appeal after a previous ruling that he had no discrimination claim under Title VII.
It is hoped that the Supreme Court of the United States will weigh in on the subject in the coming months or years, and hopefully affirm that sexual orientation discrimination has no place in the workplace. We will continue to monitor the progress of these cases and will keep you updated right here on our blog.
If you believe you have been discriminated against at work due to your sexual orientation, our law firm may be able to help. We have a long history of success in litigating cases related to employment discrimination in California.