A three-judge federal appeals court panel has upheld the dismissal of lesbian Kimberly Hively's lawsuit against Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana because federal law does not protect people who claim workplace discrimination because of sexual orientation.
Even though the panel criticized Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for not including sexual orientation under workplace protections, the judges of the 7th U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's dismissal of a complaint filed by Hively, a former part-time Ivy Tech instructor who said the college did not hire her full-time because she's a lesbian.
"We are deeply disappointed in the 7th Circuit Court's decision failing to join the growing consensus that existing civil rights law must reasonably be interpreted to include non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation," said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow in a statement. "While the court made its decision based on what it viewed as precedent, it did make clear however that there is no coherent basis for excluding sexual orientation from other types of sex discrimination claims.
In a separate press release, National Center for Lesbian Rights Legal Director Shannon Minter said, "The Seventh Circuit's decision yesterday is baffling, since the court recognizes there is no principled way to carve out sexual orientation claims from other types of sex discrimination claimsand that doing so leads to unfair and irrational results.
"It makes no sense to recognize that prior precedents are wrong and yet to refuse to reconsider them. Such a ruling damages the credibility of courts and diminishes respect for the law. "
Ivy Tech Community College has 32 degree-granting locations and serves more than 170,000 students a year. It has grown to become the largest public postsecondary institution in Indianaand the largest singly accredited statewide community-college system in the entire country.