While LGBTQ protections are gradually being scraped away by the Trump administration, a federal court made a landmark ruling on Tuesday affirming that civil rights laws protect LGBTQ Americans from employment discrimination.
Kim Hively, a math teacher in South Bend, IN, filed the case (Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College) in 2014 after the college, she said, forced her from her job when they found out she’s a lesbian.
“I have been saying all this time that what happened to me wasn’t right and was illegal. Now I will have my day in court, thanks to this decision,” Hively said in a statement after the ruling. “No one should be fired for being lesbian, gay, or transgender like happened to me and it’s incredibly powerful to know that the law now protects me and other LGBT workers.”
The case went through several rounds of appeals, but on Tuesday a full panel of judges of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Hively’s favor, writing in their ruling that Title VII protections against discrimination based on sex include sexual orientation.
“It would require considerable calisthenics to remove the ‘sex’ from ‘sexual orientation.’ The effort to do so has led to confusing and contradictory results,” they wrote in the opinion.
The ruling is especially significant given that judges re-examined previous rulings, including one made by a smaller panel of the same court against Hively in July last year.