Tuesday, March 14, 2017

11th Circuit: Title VII Does Not Bar Sexual Orientation Discrimination

In Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, (11th Cir., March 10, 2017), the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision held that Title VII of the 1964 Civil rights Act does not protect against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Jude Martinez, in his majority opinion, held:
Our binding precedent forecloses such an action. Blum v. Gulf Oil Corp., 597 F.2d 936, 938 (5th Cir. 1979)4 (“Discharge for homosexuality is not prohibited by Title VII . . . .”). “Under our prior precedent rule, we are bound to follow a binding precedent in this Circuit unless and until it is overruled by this court en banc or by the Supreme Court.”
Judge Pryor concurring wrote in part:
I write separately to explain the error of the argument of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the dissent that a person who experiences discrimination because of sexual orientation necessarily experiences discrimination for deviating from gender stereotypes.  Although a person who experiences the former will sometimes also experience the latter, the two concepts are legally distinct. And the insistence otherwise by the Commission and the dissent relies on false stereotypes of gay individuals.
Judge Rosenbaum, dissenting in part, wrote:
Plain and simple, when a woman alleges, as Evans has, that she has been discriminated against because she is a lesbian, she necessarily alleges that she has been discriminated against because she failed to conform to the employer’s image of what women should be—specifically, that women should be sexually attracted to men only. And it is utter fiction to suggest that she was not discriminated against for failing to comport with her employer’s stereotyped view of women. That is discrimination “because of . . . sex,” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1), and it clearly violates Title VII under Price Waterhouse [v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989)].
Atlanta Journal Constitution reports on the decision.