For the first time ever, a federal appellate court has ruled that sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination that is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The decision in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College came from the full 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in a 8-3 vote.
In reaching its decision, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned its own precedent. Such an outcome was warranted, the Court said, because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent rulings on gay marriage and Title VII. The Court found that a change of law was necessary now to avoid the “paradoxical legal landscape in which a person can be married on Saturday and then fired on Monday for just that act.”
The 7th Circuit covers Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Now, as a result of this case, it is illegal under federal law for employers in those states to discriminate against gay and lesbian applicants and employees.
Because the Hively decision creates a split among the federal appellate courts — some of which have reached the opposite conclusion — the issue is likely headed to the U.S. Supreme Court for a final decision that would apply nationwide.
You can read the court’s decision in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College here.