Lambda Legal to Eleventh Circuit: Federal Law Prohibits Discrimination Against Lesbian Employee

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January 7, 2016
Lambda Legal Client Jameka Evans

Today, Lambda Legal urged the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a lower court ruling and allow Jameka Evans to present her case alleging that Georgia Regional Hospital of Savannah harassed and punished her, eventually forcing her resignation, because she is a lesbian.

Lambda Legal Counsel Greg Nevins said:

Nationwide, employers of LGBT people are still ignoring the many rulings of the EEOC and federal district courts across the country specifically holding that allegations of sexual orientation discrimination in the form of gender stereotyping may be brought under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC made it plain just last year in Baldwin v. Foxx that sexual orientation discrimination ‘necessarily’ is sex discrimination. Georgia Regional Hospital targeted Jameka Evans for harassment and eventually termination because she is a lesbian. It is time for employers to recognize that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination, and is unlawful.

Last April, Evans filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia against her former employer, Georgia Regional Hospital, claiming the hospital was violating Title VII by discriminating against her because of her sexual orientation and her nonconformity with gender norms of appearance and demeanor. The district court dismissed Ms. Evans’ complaint, arguing that Title VII does not protect employees from such discrimination.

Today, Lambda Legal filed its brief with the Eleventh Circuit in its appeal of that ruling, arguing that Evans must have her day in court, because sexual orientation discrimination is sex discrimination under Title VII.

For years, Lambda Legal has been explaining to courts that Title VII, when properly understood, protects LGBT employees. Three of Lambda Legal’s successful efforts in 2014, in federal courts in Seattle, Chicago, and Washington D.C., were cited by the EEOC in Baldwin v. Foxx.

In September, Lambda Legal appeared before the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Kim Hively, a college instructor fired from her job for being a lesbian whose similar Title VII claim was also dismissed by a federal district court in Indiana.

Jameka Evans said:

I worked hard at Georgia Regional Hospital because I needed that job to help me pay for school. It's not fair that I could be forced out of my job because my supervisor doesn't like that I am a lesbian and I don't look like how he thinks a woman should look. I just want my day in court. I just want my day in court.

Read the press release.