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The Importance of Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College

November 25th, 2016

Courthouse draped in LGBTQ rainbow.

Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College could dramatically change employment laws around the country if it reaches the Supreme Court.

Although Americans are now permitted to marry regardless of sexual orientation, more than half of the states in the United States contain no employment protection laws for members of the LGBTQ community. The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit is ready to change this issue in three states which are overseen by the court in the pending case of Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College. A case likely Hively has the potential to significantly change the landscape of this country’s issues regarding employment discrimination for LGBTQ individuals. Even more importantly, the Seventh Circuit appears to be ready to rule in favor of LGBTQ rights.

The Claims Made in Hively

The individual who initiated legal action in Hively claims that her employer discriminated against her on the basis that she is a lesbian. This individual argues that Title VII classifies this type of discrimination as unlawful. The plaintiff in this case argues that she faced adverse action from her employer because the plaintiff failed to conform to the gender stereotype that women are attracted to men. The plaintiff further argues that discrimination by an employer against a woman based on the gender of the sex to which plaintiff is attracted is similar to more established types of discriminated. The plaintiff argues that a woman should be granted time off to care for her same sex partner in the same way a heterosexual couple would.  

The Issues Involved in Hively

To understand the issues involved in Hively, one must understand that federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of a worker’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This discrimination can involve selection, evaluation, or payment of employees. Courts have read the exact meaning of discrimination based on gender, however, in an inconsistent manner, which has caused much confusion and a lack of protection for individuals of the LGBTQ community.

The Tendency of the Seventh Circuit

The history of Hively suggests that Seventh Circuit has a desire to eliminate the existing discrepancy in employment discrimination. The court is hearing Hively through a procedure known as an en banc review, which are granted in a response to a decision of the panel of the court in which a case is of particular public importance or the panel’s decision appears to be in significant conflict with a prior decision of the court. In a prior decision of Hively, one of the Seventh Circuit judges criticized a lower court’s ruling of Hively. If the Seventh Circuit holds that current federal law prohibits sexual orientation discrimination, the Supreme Court will likely hear this case or another case with similar issues in an effort to resolve a discrepancy of interpretation among various circuit courts.

The Aim of Universal Life Church

The blog of the Universal Life Church aims to update individuals about recent legal developments regarding rights for individuals in the LGBTQ community. Although issues in this field are often complicated in nature, this blog aims to explain matters in a manner that can be easily understood by the reader.

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