“Who will be hurt if gays and lesbians have a little more job protection?” Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals posed this question a few months ago during oral argument in a case involving a teacher who alleged she was fired because she is lesbian. On Tuesday, the en banc Seventh Circuit answered Judge Posner’s rhetorical question in a landmark decision holding that Title VII protects employees from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation. The court is the first court of appeals in the country to apply Title VII’s job protections to employees on the basis of their sexual orientation, interpreting the definition of “sex” under Title VII to include “sexual orientation.”
To casual followers of the law, this decision may seem unremarkable after the Supreme Court ruled nearly two years ago that same-sex marriage enjoys constitutional protection. (See our blog on the Obergefell decision here, and our blog on the decision’s impact on employee benefits here.) But it is a watershed decision with ripple effects far beyond the three states within the Seventh Circuit.
Continue Reading Landmark Seventh Circuit Decision Interprets Title VII Protections To Prohibit Sexual Orientation Discrimination