U.S. Supreme Court - The FindLaw U.S. Supreme Court Opinion Summaries Blog

SCOTUS Won't Hear LGBT Workplace Discrimination Case

LGBT rights attorneys are not giving up, but Jameka Evans' sex discrimination case is definitely over.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined her petition without comment after the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed her case. Evans had argued her employer discriminated against her because of her sexual orientation and nonconformity to gender norms.

"Under our prior precedent rule, we are bound to follow a binding precedent in this Circuit unless and until it is overruled by this court en banc or by the Supreme Court," the appeals court said in Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital.

If Not Now, When?

Lambda Legal, an LGBT civil rights group, criticized the U.S. Supreme Court because it left a split in the circuit courts on the issue. However, the LGBT civil rights group is not leaving it alone.

"[T]his was not a 'no' but a 'not yet,' and rest assured that Lambda Legal will continue the fight, circuit by circuit as necessary, to establish that the Civil Rights Act prohibits sexual orientation discrimination," said spokesman Greg Nevins.

Before filing her petition with the U.S. Supreme Court, Evans had sought review from an en banc panel of the Eleventh Circuit. But the full court declined.

Evans sued under Title VII, saying she was discriminated against because she didn't carry herself in a "traditionally womanly manner. She is a lesbian, but identifies with the male gender by wearing male clothes, a short haircut and men's shoes.

Dissenting View

Writing a long dissent in the Eleventh Circuit decision, Judge Robin Rosenbaum said Title VII should prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Women have a role in society, Rosenbaum posed rhetorically, to wear dresses, be subservient to men and be sexually attracted only to men.

"If she doesn't conform to this view of what a woman should be, an employer has every right to fire her," Rosenbaum wrote. "That was the law in 1963 -- before Congress enacted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But that is not the law now."

Related Resources: