In a major victory for human rights, on April 4, for the first time ever, a US appeals court ruled that federal civil rights law protects LGBTQ people from discrimination in the workplace.
The case involves Kimberly Hively, who was passed her over for a permanent position at Ivy Tech Community College in South Bend, Indiana and lost her position as an adjunct professor there. She accused the school of acting because school administrators learned she is a lesbian and sued the school, claiming a violation of her civil rights.
She lost in district court in Indiana and before a panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which threw out her suit on the grounds that LGBTQ folks are not protected by federal laws against sex discrimination because they are not specifically mentioned there.
We conclude today that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination.A dramatic statement of a simple truth.
This does not mean that Hively has won her suit; she still has to show that the school acted as it did because she is lesbian. But it does mean the suit can go forward - and no matter how her suit turns out in the end, the recognition of discrimination based on gender identity to be a form of sex discrimination remains, and remains an important breakthrough.