Court rules Civil Rights Act protects LGBT employees from discrimination

Court rules Civil Rights Act protects LGBT employees from discrimination
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A federal appeals court in Chicago ruled Tuesday that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees from discrimination in the workplace.

It's the first such ruling from a federal appellate court, likely setting up a battle before the Supreme Court, The Associated Press reported. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling comes three weeks after a three-judge panel in Atlanta had an opposite ruling.

The case involved Indiana teacher Kimberly Hively, who filed a lawsuit where she alleged she wasn't hired full-time by the Ivy Tech Community College in South Bend because she was a lesbian.

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Judge Richard Posner had questioned John Maley, the attorney for the community college, in November about who would be hurt if "gays and lesbians have a little more job protection," according to reports at the time.

At the time, Maley reportedly could not name anyone who would be hurt if the protections were extended.

In response, the judge said: "So, what's the big deal?"

Gregory Nevins, the lawyer representing the teacher, said you "can't discriminate against a woman because she rides a Harley, had Bears tickets or has tattoos."

"But you can if she's lesbian."

The ruling comes after President Trump's administration in February rolled back protections for transgender students. 

The administration rescinded a guidance by the Obama administration that allowed students to use school bathrooms and other facilities that correspond to their gender identities.

In a statement following the decision, Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsHillicon Valley: State officials share tech privacy concerns with Sessions | Senator says election security bill won't pass before midterms | Instagram co-founders leave Facebook | Google chief to meet GOP lawmakers over bias claims On The Money: US trade chief casts doubt on Canada joining new deal | House panel invites Watt accuser to testify | Brady defends GOP message on tax cuts State officials press Sessions on tech privacy worries MORE said the Obama administration's former guidelines lacked a solid foundation in pre-existing law.