The full 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago will hear arguments that protections afforded by the 1964 Civil Rights Act should be expanded to also cover LGBT employees. The case was originally heard in July but the ruling was vacated by three of its judges citing that the landmark workplace discrimination law does not cover sexual orientation bias.
Kimberly Hively, an Indiana teacher alleges that she was not hired full-time at a college due to being a lesbian. According to the LGBT-workplace bias appeal, Hively began teaching as a part-time adjunct professor at Ivy Tech Community College in 2000. Between 2009 and 2014, Hively applied for a total of 6 full-time positions. Despite never receiving a negative evaluation and despite having all the necessary qualifications for full-time employment, Hively alleges that the college refused to even interview her for any of the six positions she had applied for. In the complaint filed in the district court, she also alleged that her part-time employment contract was not renewed in July 2014.
The college’s defense in both the district court and the appeal is that sexual orientation discrimination does not fall within the scope of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and therefore is not protected. It is their argument that Hively has in essence, made a claim in which there is no legal remedy.
While there have been arguments that there is indeed a lack of workplace protections set in place for sexual orientation discrimination; it has also been argued that these protections must come from either Congress or the Supreme Court. This of course, forces us to address the even bigger elephant in the room: The Trump & Pence Administration and the expectation that they will select a social conservative to fill the Supreme Court vacancy.
Of course the likeliness of Trump selecting a socially conservative Supreme Court Judge is very high. So what would this mean for Hively and a Supreme Court ruling? Sadly, this could mean that any high court action on this issue could be very unlikely; especially considering the anti-LGBT views of his transition team – seen largely for example, with the appointment of Ken Blackwell of the Family Research Council as Trump’s Domestic Policy adviser.