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Court rules Title VII protects gay workers

Under the Obama administration, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission took the position that gender-based protections in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protect gay and lesbian employees in New York and nationwide. On April 4, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit also came to that conclusion, marking the first time a full federal appellate court took such a stance.

The court ruled that the Title VII provision banning sex discrimination in the workplace also bans discrimination based on sexual orientation. According to the opinion, the justices based their decision on recent Supreme Court rulings involving sexual orientation discrimination and employment discrimination.

The opinion said that, even though the 88th Congress responsible for the Civil Rights Act may be surprised by modern interpretations of the law, it was time to revisit the current legal landscape regarding sexual orientation discrimination. The majority of the justices on the court were appointed by Republican presidents.

It is illegal for employers to discriminate against current or prospective employees based on sex, race, religion, national origin, physical disability and age. If people believesthey are being harassed or discriminated against because of their sexual orientation, they may wish to discuss their case with an employment attorney. If the case has merit, legal counsel could explain how to properly document incidents of discrimination and help file an employment discrimination complaint with the EEOC.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Federal Civil Rights Law Protects Gay Employees, Appeals Court Rules," Ryan Reilly, April 4, 2017

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