Supreme Court Punts Case on Sexual Orientation Bias

December 15, 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review an Eleventh Circuit Court ruling that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act does not bar discrimination based on sexual orientation, leaving in place a circuit split over the issue.  Earlier this year, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that "sex" under Title VII also includes sexual orientation, even though every other circuit court has reached the opposite conclusion.  Notably, the federal government is also split on the issue with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (including acting Republican Chair Victoria Lipnic) maintaining that sexual orientation discrimination is illegal under Title VII, while the Department of Justice argues "sex discrimination" does not include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  Eventually, the Supreme Court will need to resolve the issue.  It could have that opportunity soon if the Second Circuit Court overturns its prior precedent and holds that Title VII prohibits sexual orientation discrimination.