Under the Civil Rights movement, there are numerous protected groups. Many people of different faiths, ages and belief systems have come under the protection of the Civil Rights Act.
However, one group that has not been afforded the legal protection of the Civil Rights Act is the LGBT community – until now.
Federal Appellate Court in Chicago Affirms LGBT Workplace Protections Under the Civil Rights Act
According to a recent report in the Chicago Tribute, the First U.S. Appellate Court in Chicago just ruled to extend Civil Rights Act protection for a woman fired from her job unjustly because she is a lesbian. According to the article, "Eight judges on the Chicago appellate court agreed that workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Three judges wrote dissenting opinions."
This is a decision long in the making, as LGBT employees have not been able to obtain these protections under the Act. Just a few weeks ago, in fact, a three-judge panel in Atlanta ruled that employers are legally permitted to discriminate against employees based on sexual orientation.
There is an obvious problem here in the legal schema: Since not that long ago the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of giving legal recognition to homosexual marriages, it does not make sense that the same group would not be afforded the protections of the Civil Rights Act in the workplace.
This recent Chicago court decision represents the beginning of change in this legal disconnect.
The Impact of This Decision
Although this one decision simply returns the case back to its starting point in Indiana, and ultimately carries direct precedent only in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, the long-term implications are likely going to be widespread.
Lower courts of other districts can use this precedent as compelling, and other courts will likely use this case to continue extending Civil Rights Acts protections to people of all sexual orientations.
What Does This Mean For You?
If you have been discriminated against in your workplace for your sexual orientation, you could have a strong claim where you might not have mere weeks ago. In the 7th Circuit, of course, you have direct legal precedent on your side. In other areas, you have a much more compelling claim. Talk with an experienced attorney to protect your rights in the workplace.