(April 4, 2017 San Francisco)— Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued a landmark decision holding that federal laws protecting workers from sex discrimination prohibit employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. Reversing older decisions denying federal protection to LGBTQ workers, the court concluded that developments in U.S. Supreme Court precedent over the past two decades required the court to reconsider its earlier cases and conclude discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination. The court’s decision applies to employers and workers in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.
National Center for Lesbian Rights Legal Director Shannon Minter, Esq. issued the following statement in response:
“This decision opens the door to a new era for LGBTQ plaintiffs under federal sex discrimination law. With this historic decision, the Seventh Circuit is the first federal appellate court to acknowledge that discrimination because a person is gay, lesbian or bisexual can only reasonably be understood as discrimination based on sex. The court deserves credit for rejecting the tortured rationales of older decisions and undertaking a principled analysis, based on the Supreme Court’s affirmation in Price Waterhouse and other cases, that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 must be broadly construed to prohibit the full range of sex-based discrimination.”