Sexual Orientation Discrimination Is Sex Discrimination

Workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation is sex discrimination and violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The decision in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana directly conflicts with its sister circuits and will likely set up an appeal to the United States Supreme Court to resolve the split.

So what does this mean for Indiana employers? Employers should check their workplace policies about sexual-orientation and gender-identity discrimination. Employers without these workplace policies and with employees in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin must update their anti-discrimination and harassment policies and training. Additionally, the availability of gender stereotyping claims may subject employers to potential liability for discrimination against gay, lesbian, and transgender employees.

While the effects of Hively remain to be seen, it is possible the case could expand beyond the boundaries of Title VII or clash with  interpretations of other federal laws barring sex discrimination, including the Equal Pay Act, the Affordable Care Act, the Fair Housing Act, federally funded educational programs (Title IX), and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

If you have questions or would like to advice related to your current discrimination policies, please contact a Jones Obenchain lawyer.