Supreme Court Declines to Hear Georgia LGBT Workplace Discrimination Case

Photo: MGN Online

The Supreme Court has refused to hear a case challenging whether sex discrimination protections in employment should extend to sexual orientation.

The Supreme Court issued their decision denying an appeal of the case on Monday. The Supreme Court did not provide a reason for their refusal.

Lambda Legal, who is handling the case on behalf of Jameka Evans, says that the decision was not a “no” but a “not yet.”

“But this was not a “no” but a “not yet,” and rest assured that Lambda Legal will continue the fight, circuit by circuit as necessary, to establish that the Civil Rights Act prohibits sexual orientation discrimination,” said Greg Nevins, Employment Fairness Project Director for Lambda Legal.

The petition sought a nationwide ruling that sexual orientation discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.

“By declining to hear this case, the Supreme Court is delaying the inevitable and leaving a split in the circuits that will cause confusion across the country,” said Nevins.

According to the petition to the Supreme Court, Evans worked as a security officer at the Georgia Regional Hospital in Savannah from 2012 to 2013.

Documents say Evans dressed in “stereotypical male ways” and alleges that because of it, her supervisors “harassed her because of her perceived homosexuality.”

When the alleged harassment continued, Evans quit and took the case to a magistrate judge. That judge recommended that the case be thrown out because Title VII “was not intended to cover discrimination against homosexuals,” leading to the district court’s dismissal of the case.

Evans appealed again, this time to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, but they also rejected her claim, saying they were compelled to reject it by a 1979 ruling that dictated being “discharged for homosexuality is not prohibited by Title VII.”

On July 6, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals declined to rehear the case. Lambda Legal then filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, which was denied.

“The vast majority of Americans believe that LGBT people should be treated equally in the workplace,” said Nevins. “The public is on the right side of history; it’s unfortunate that the Supreme Court has refused to join us today, but we will continue to invite them to do the right thing and end this hurtful balkanization of the right of LGBT people to be out at work.”

You can find official court documents on the case here.