US federal court rules that employers can discriminate based on sexual orientation

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A federal appeals court has ruled that employers aren’t banned from discriminating against employees based on their sexual orientation.

On Friday a three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 1964 Title VII doesn’t protect against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Jameka Evans had sued former employer Georgia Regional Hospital in Savannah, saying she was discriminated against and forced out of her job.

The panel voted 2-1 to state that Title VII, which does protect for a number of factors, doesn’t include sexual orientation.

Brought by Lambda Legal, the case was one of two at federal appeals courts which could have bolstered LGBT rights in the workplace if successful.

Another case, at the 7th Circuit, was also brought by Lambda Legal.

A three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in July upheld the dismissal of the lawsuit against the Ivy Tech Community College.

But after Kimberly Hively appealed the July decision to throw out the case, a full panel of the court will hear the case.

The court heard that Hively was told an administrator at her previous school back in 2009 that she had been seen “sucking face” when she kissed her girlfriend goodbye.

The full 7th Circuit decision is yet to be announced.

“This is not the end of the road for us and certainly not for Jameka,” attorney Greg Nevins said in an emailed statement. “There is no way to draw a line between sexual orientation discrimination and discrimination based on gender nonconformity because not being straight is gender-nonconforming, period.”