Supreme Court refuses to hear LGBT workplace discrimination case

The Supreme Court refused Monday to hear a case challenging whether sex discrimination protections in employment extend to sexual orientation.

The justices denied an appeal from a Georgia woman who claims she was harassed and forced from her job as a security officer at Georgia Regional Hospital.

Jameka Evans argued the hospital violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act when it discriminated against her because of her sexual orientation and her nonconformity to gender norms of appearance and demeanor, according to her attorneys at Lambda Legal.


The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Evans’s claim and dismissed her lawsuit. The court said it could not rule, based on its past precedent, that discrimination based on sexual orientation is prohibited under Title VII.

“Under our prior precedent rule, we are bound to follow a binding precedent in this Circuit unless and until it is overruled by this court en banc or by the Supreme Court,” the court said.

The 11th Circuit declined to hear the case with its full panel of judges.

The Supreme Court on Monday gave no explanation as to why it decided not to take the case.

The hospital, which is owned by the state of Georgia, was represented by state Solicitor General Sarah Hawkins Warren in the Office of the Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr. 

A spokeswoman said the office does "not have a comment at this time.”  


Lambda Legal criticized the high court's move, saying it leaves in place a split among lower circuit court decisions that will cause confusion across the country.

“But this was not a ‘no’ but a ‘not yet,’ and rest assured that Lambda Legal will continue the fight, circuit by circuit as necessary, to establish that the Civil Rights Act prohibits sexual orientation discrimination,” Greg Nevins, the group’s employment fairness project director, said in a statement.

“The vast majority of Americans believe that LGBT people should be treated equally in the workplace. The public is on the right side of history; it’s unfortunate that the Supreme Court has refused to join us today, but we will continue to invite them to do the right thing and end this hurtful balkanization of the right of LGBT people to be out at work.”

In April, Lambda Legal said the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals overruled four of its precedents in ruling that its client, Kimberly Hively, could proceed under the Civil Rights Act with her claim that the Indiana-based Ivy Tech Community College discriminated against her because she is a lesbian. 

The LGBT civil rights group is now calling on LGBT Americans across the country to come forward if they’ve been discriminated against based on their sexual orientation at work.

This story was updated at 10:24 a.m.