On April 4, 2017, the Seventh Circuit, sitting en banc, held in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In an 8-3 ruling, the court held that a teacher at a community college could move forward with her suit in a federal district court claiming she was denied advancement because she is a lesbian. With this ruling, the Seventh Circuit becomes the first federal appellate court in the country to determine that sexual orientation is protected under Title VII.
Although Title VII is silent with respect to sexual orientation discrimination, the Seventh Circuit concluded that sexual orientation is protected under Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination based on “sex.” The court looked to both Supreme Court precedent as well as its own common sense in determining that “it is actually impossible to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without discriminating on the basis of sex . . .” Below, we address key takeaways for employers relating to this ruling:
Should you have any questions about the Hively decision or need help reviewing and revising outdated policies, please contact your Kilpatrick Townsend attorney.
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