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Ruling says no protections for gay employees

Individuals in New York who are concerned about gay rights should be aware of a recent ruling by the 11th United States Circuit Court of Appeals, a federal appeals court in Atlanta, Ga. The three-judge panel ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not provide protections against workplace discrimination that is based on sexual orientation. The ruling is considered by gay rights advocates to be a setback in the expansion of workplace discrimination protections.

In April 2015, a woman filed a suit against her employer alleging that she was a victim of discrimination and was effectively forced out of her security guard job because she was a lesbian and did not adhere to gender norms. In the majority opinion for the decision, a visiting judge wrote that precedent established by a 1979 case that stated Title VII does not forbid termination for sexual orientation required that the court rule in the same manner.

The plaintiff's attorney argued that since a 2011 11th Circuit decision stated discrimination against a transgender employee due to gender non-conformity was essentially illegal sex discrimination, it should also provide the same protection for gays and lesbians who alleged sexual orientation discrimination. One of the judges who ruled on that opinion and on the most recent case argued that the transgender case was based on behavior instead of status. He also asserted that it was the responsibility of Congress, not the courts, to establish sexual orientation as a protected class.

Victims of workplace discrimination should speak with an attorney who practices employment law regarding their legal options. If they have been discriminated against by being terminated or demoted because they belong to a protected class, they may be able to regain their position or obtain a financial settlement for back and future wages.

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