The ACLU of Georgia and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Monday arguing that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act clearly prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The brief, filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, supports Lambda Legal client Jameka Evans’ request for a re-hearing in the case of Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, in which Evans, a lesbian employee, sued her employer for harassment in violation of Title VII.
“The ACLU has long fought to end workplace discrimination in all of its forms, because no one should be fired from a job or harassed at work just for being themselves,” said ACLU of Georgia Executive Director Andrea Young. “Bias against lesbian, gay, and bisexual people turns on the sex-based expectation that women should be attracted only to men – and not women – and vice versa. Employers who take sexual orientation into account necessarily take sex into account – and sex discrimination in the workplace is clearly prohibited under the Civil Rights Act.”
On March 10th, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit, basing its decision on precedent that has been called into question by more recent Supreme Court rulings, held that the discrimination based on sexual orientation was not actionable under Title VII. Evans, who is represented by Lambda Legal, has filed a Petition for Rehearing en banc, asking that all of the judges of the 11th Circuit hear arguments on whether sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII.
The ACLU of Georgia supports Evans’ petition because, as recent court rulings explain, Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination protects all employees, including lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. Employers who take sexual orientation into account necessarily take sex into account, because sexual orientation is defined by one’s sex in relation to the sex of the people to whom one is attracted.
Evans is being represented by Lambda Legal. The other organizations that signed onto the ACLU’s amicus brief in support of the petition include: 9to5, National Association of Working Women; A Better Balance; California Women’s Law Center; Coalition of Labor Union Women; Equal Rights Advocates; Gender Justice; Legal Voice; National Association of Women Lawyers; National Organization for Women Foundation; National Partnership for Women & Families; National Women’s Law Center; Southwest Women’s Law Center; Women Employed; Women’s Law Center of Maryland, Inc.; and Women’s Law Project.