The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that a professor who argued that she was not promoted due to antigay bias—was not protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The ruling declared such protections went “beyond the scope of the statute,” which prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, sex, and national origin. Only the Supreme Court or Congress could determine Title VII extended to sexual orientation, it determined.
In the over 40-page document of this most recent decision, U.S. Circuit Judge Ilana Rovner, who was joined in part by Judge Kenneth Ripple, noted the complex “legal landscape in which a person can be married on Saturday and then fired on Monday for just that act.” However, Rovner challenged the logic of the 2015 ruling from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission supporting Hively’s argument.
“The idea that the line between gender non‐conformity and sexual orientation claims is arbitrary and unhelpful has been smoldering for some time, but the EEOC’s decision … threw fuel on the flames,” stated Rovner, citing cases from 1984 to 2000 that determined anti-LGBT discrimination did not fall under Title VII. “Until the writing comes in the form of a Supreme Court opinion or new legislation, we must adhere to the writing of our prior precedent,” Rovner concluded.
The 7th Federal District Court is composed of Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. While there is a here is a slim hope that the 7th circuit could re-consider this case en banc, odds are that this case will head to the Supreme Court.
Rhode Island-based Hasbro toys is facing a lawsuit from a former employee who claims the company dismissed her unfairly because of her activism on behalf of gender and sexual orientation issues, according to the Providence Journal.
“JoAnna Lapati, a lesbian, alleges that her open commitment to the cause of women’s rights, her gender, and her sexual orientation led Hasbro to falsely accuse her of wrongdoing and subsequently firing her last January,” says the article. “Lapati was a supervisor in Hasbro’s model artist division for 14 years, which makes prototypes, at the time of her termination.”
According to the lawsuit, Lapati was informed she had violated the employer’s code of conduct. Human resources refused to provide specifics about the grounds, other than to accuse her of participating in “a sexually inappropriate comment.”
She asked to dispute the allegation, but was told the decision was final, she says. Lapati asserts she did not engage in any misconduct and argues she was retaliated against because of her attempts to “ensure compliance: with workplace policies and federal and state laws regarding a hostile work environment and workplace discrimination.”
Lapati is seeking unspecified damages “as appropriate to punish” Hasbro for its malicious conduct and callous indifference. She asks the court to order Hasbro to institute and carry out policies that provide equal employment opportunities to qualified individuals regardless of gender and or sexual orientation.
Hasbro has a horrible score at the Human Rights 2014 Campaign Corporate Equality Index, which only assigns the company 25 out of a possible 100 points.