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LGBT employees protected under federal law, appeals court says

The notion that the U.S. Supreme Court recently became more conservative with the appointment of Neil Gorsuch, it appears that progressive rulings in the future are not totally inconceivable. This may be especially important to the LGBT community as it continues to fight for equality in the workplace.

Historically, courts have resisted calls to include sexual orientation as a protected class under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bans discrimination of employees based on a number of inalienable traits, including race, sex, national origin and religion; to name a few. This is probably based on the ill-fated notion that people “chose” to be gay.

Nevertheless, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation. The ruling is the first recognition of such rights extending to LGBT employees. It is a progressive ruling coming from one of the most conservative in the nation. The 8-3 ruling came from several judges who were republican appointees. N

In fact, the chief judge (also a conservative republican appointee) wrote that the case was no different from claims brought by female employees who had been rejected for jobs in male dominated workplaces, including construction sites, as well as police and fire departments.

While federal courts in California are not required to follow this ruling, it should signal a change in how LGBT employment discrimination cases may be reviewed. If you have questions about your rights and options in discrimination cases, an experienced employment law attorney can advise you.

The preceding is not legal advice.

 

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