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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 21, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 43
7th Circuit grants en banc review to Title VII case
Section One
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7th Circuit grants en banc review to Title VII case

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals will review a prior decision denying the claims of a Lesbian law professor who says Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects her against discrimination on account of her sexual orientation.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court turned down the claim of Kimberley Hively against her employer, Ivy Tech Community College, in August.

Kimberly Hively charged Ivy Tech with workplace discrimination dating back to 2014 and said she had been denied a promotion six times because she is a Lesbian. Hively was represented in her suit by Lambda Legal.

Last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commision (EEOC) said that Title VII's protections against sex discrimination in the workplace also covered Lesbian, Gay, and Bi employees, because discrimination against sexual orientation was a form of sex bias.

The 7th Circuit panel, however, dismissed Hively's suit in a 42-page ruling, saying that the federal civil rights law protects against discrimination on account of sex, but not on account of sexual orientation.

Hively's attorneys at Lambda Legal said they were 'surprised' by the ruling, and they subsequently submitted a request for an en banc review of the case, in other words a decision by the entire Circuit Court.

Although it is fairly rare for an appeals court to vacate the ruling of its panel, the 7th Circuit has now decided on an en banc review, which is scheduled for November 30.

The decision was welcomed by Hively's legal team.

'For too long, LGBT employees have been forced to conceal their true identity at work out of fear of backlash and discrimination,' said Greg Nevins, counsel and employment fairness strategist for Lambda Legal, in a statement.

'It's a modern day 'don't ask, don't tell' policy in the workplace. Not only is it wrong, it's illegal - and we need the court to make it clear.'

Ivy Tech College has consistently denied the allegations of bias. College spokesperson Jeffery Fanter told Bloomberg News that the institute 'does not condone, and in fact explicitly prohibits, employment discrimination based upon a person's sexual orientation.'

The decision by the 7th Circuit to review the case increases the likelihood that the US Supreme Court may ultimately rule whether Title VII covers sexual orientation.

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