• Sexual Orientation And Title VII: Where Do We Go From Here?
  • May 8, 2017 | Authors: David Long-Daniels; Adonica Starke-Melson
  • Law Firm: Greenberg Traurig, LLP - Atlanta Office
  • Since the enactment of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it has been well-settled among the federal appellate courts that sexual orientation is not a protected category under Title VII. The First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, Tenth, Eleventh and D.C. Circuits have all reached the same conclusion. However, the most recent decisions issued by the Seventh and Eleventh Circuits has split the circuits’ agreement on the issue and could ultimately force the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether sexual orientation is a protected category under Title VII sooner rather than later.

    On March 10, 2017, in Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, No. 15-15234, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 4301 (11th Cir. March 10, 2017), the Eleventh Circuit in a majority split affirmed a district court’s dismissal of a former employee’s suit against her employer, which alleged discrimination in violation of Title VII on the basis of her sexual orientation as a lesbian and for failing to carry herself in a “traditionally” womanly manner. In rendering its decision, the Eleventh Circuit relied on binding precedent in Blum v. Gulf Oil Corp., 597 F.2d 936, 938 (5th Cir. 1979), which expressly holds that “[d]ischarge for homosexuality is not prohibited by the Title VII.” Id.