U.S. Eleventh Circuit - The FindLaw 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Recently in Civil Rights Law Category

The Civil Rights Act's protections against discrimination 'on the basis of sex' do not protect gay and lesbian workers who face discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation, the Eleven Circuit ruled on Friday.

That wouldn't be a terribly noteworthy outcome, if this were still the 1970s, or even the early 2000s. During those periods of civil rights litigation, courts routinely refused to extend employment protections to gay, lesbian, and transgender employees. But in recent years, the consensus has started to shift. The EEOC has interpreted the Civil Rights Act to protect gay workers, for example, and the Eleventh itself has extended protections to transgender employees.

But those earlier cases still stand, the Eleventh ruled, and they still bind the court's interpretation of civil rights laws today.

An en banc Eleventh Circuit yesterday struck down a Florida law that prevented doctors generally from asking their patients about gun ownership. The law was an unconstitutional restriction on the doctors' free speech, the court ruled.

The legal battle over that law, Florida's Firearms Owners' Privacy Act, earned the moniker Docs v. Glocks, after doctors complained that the law prevented them from properly screening patients and discussing possible health risks.

ACLU Wins Appeal for LGBT Club Against Middle School

A federal appeals court has ruled that LGBT students may proceed against a Florida middle school that denied its application for a student club.

In reversing the dismissal of the club's lawsuit, the Eleventh Circuit said that Florida law gives middle school and high school students the same rights to form extra-curricular clubs. The justices said Florida's law inconsistently defines "secondary education," but concluded that a middle school is a secondary school for equal access purposes.

"We conclude that 'secondary education,' under Florida law, means at least 'courses through which a person receives high school credit that leads to the award of a high school diploma,'" the justices said in reversing and remanding the case.

Unless the school district appeals, the district court will now decide whether Carver Middle School must accept the club. The appellate court decision has far-reaching implications, however.

A police officer in Georgia, who claims he was punished for reporting racial profiling, can pursue his section 1983 and defamation suit against the local sheriff's department, the Eleventh Circuit ruled last week.

Derrick Bailey, a law-enforcement officer with more than 17 years of experience, alleges that he was terminated and harassed for reporting racial profiling and constitutional violations in the Douglasville police department and Douglas County sheriffs office. That retaliation included a "BOLO," or "be-on-the-lookout" advisory to all law enforcement in the county, describing Bailey as a "loose cannon" and danger to any cop -- a warning the Eleventh Circuit notes could have left him dead at the hands of his fellow officers.

Does a prohibition on employee dreadlocks amount to racial discrimination, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act? Not according to the Eleventh Circuit. Though dreads may be closely associated with African American race and culture, a ban on the hairstyle doesn't amount to racial discrimination, the court ruled last Thursday.

The ruling came after the EEOC brought a lawsuit on behalf of Chastity Jones, an applicant who was offered a job at a customer service call center, on the condition that she chop off her dreadlocks.

No Sex Toys in Sandy Springs Without a Bona Fide Reason

This rather unusual lawsuit out of the Eleventh Circuit is an affirmation of Sandy Springs' ban on sex devices unless needed for "bona fide" reasons. Now, how often is that going to happen? What's a "bona fide" need for sex toys?

'Docs v. Glocks' in 11th Circuit: Gun Rights or Free Speech?

The Florida Firearm Owners Privacy Act, odiously nicknamed 'Docs v. Glocks,' is being debated in federal court that has physicians on one side and gun rights activists on the other. It's been five years since the Florida law passed, and all eyes are on the Federal Court in Atlanta.

Most people see this as a doctors versus gun owners issue, but many lawyers see it as a First Amendment versus Second Amendment issue. What do you think is the correct way to interpret this debate?

Officer Jails Real Estate Agents Who Foreclosed on His House

Circuit cases don't often involve terribly outlandish scenarios. Here's an exception. In this qualified immunity case, a police officer arrested the real estate agents for the new owners of his home after they foreclosed on his house.

Based on that brief set of facts, how do you think the court ruled? You're probable right.

Wife's Consent to Search Computer for Child Porn OK, 11th Cir. Rules

The Florida man who was sentenced to eight years for knowingly accessing a computer with intent to view child pornography got no relief from the Eleventh Circuit, which recently affirmed the lower court's decision.

The decision expands current law as to who may consent to give access to your materials in the face of a warrantless search.

Down Syndrome Adult Wins in 11th Cir. Against Apt. Complex

In a case that is illustrative to those who lease-out residential property, the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed the lower trial court's dismissal of a discrimination suit in the plaintiff's favor because it found that the apartment complex had violated the Fair Housing Act.

Of particular note is the court's declaration that a defendant need not make dwelling impossible to obtain in order for that dwelling to be "unavailable" for purposes of the Act.