In a first-of-its-kind decision, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination against gay employees, foreshadowing a likely showdown at the Supreme Court. Michael Tarm writes:
The case stems from a lawsuit by Indiana teacher Kimberly Hively alleging that the Ivy Tech Community College in South Bend didn't hire her full time because she is a lesbian.
Hively said she agreed to bring the case because she felt she was being "bullied."
She told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that the time has come "to stop punishing people for being gay, being lesbian, being transgender."
The Chicago ruling followed a so-called en banc hearing of all the judges in the appeals court, with eight agreeing that the civil rights law prohibits discrimination because of sexual orientation, and three dissenting. The vote is notable because the 7th Circuit is considered a relatively conservative appeals court. Eight out of the 11 judges were appointed by Republican presidents.
The Hively ruling represented a circuit split with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, where a three-judge panel ruled last month that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act doesn't prohibit workplace bias based on “sexual orientation.”