Civil Rights Act Protects Gay Workers from Job Discrimination

Jeremy Weltman Jeremy Y. Weltman

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago recently Civil Rightsruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay workers from job discrimination. This is a landmark ruling because historically the courts have said that LGBTQ people were not protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Up until now, the courts have not included sexual orientation as a protected group. This ruling expands workplace protections to include sexual orientation.

“For many years, the courts of appeals of this country understood the prohibition against sex discrimination to exclude discrimination on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation,” Chief Judge Diane Wood wrote for the majority. “We conclude today that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination.”

Courts Are Divided on the Issue of Discrimination for Gay Workers

While the Seventh Circuit ruling is a victory for gay rights, an appellate court in Georgia recently ruled in another case that the Civil Rights Act did not prohibit job discrimination for gay workers. Questions still remain on this issue and it is likely to go to the United States Supreme Court to be resolved.

About the Author

Jeremy Y. Weltman has earned a strong reputation for protecting the civil Attorney Jeremy Y. Weltmanrights of the disabled and victims of discrimination, in its many forms. He has aggressively pursued the rights of the disenfranchised, both on an individual and class-wide basis, in civil rights infringement cases brought against government institutions and the private sector in federal and state courts. His direct experience includes:

  • Representing a State affiliate of the largest nationwide organization of blind people in America in a number of separate public accommodation actions filed in the MCAD, state and federal courts against large corporations for ignoring the equal rights of the blind to access the same services offered to the sighted public in the technology and transportation sectors.
  • Representing the largest nationwide organization of blind people in America in a class action filed against a major retailer that refused to provide basic equal access to point of sale (POS) devices for the blind, thereby forcing its blind customers to compromise their personal and financial security to complete the transaction by directing the cashier to input sensitive information on their behalf.
  • Co-counsel in the prosecution of a major civil rights class action filed on behalf of civilly committed patients at a state operated mental health/correctional facility. After aggressive litigation and initial discovery, the Commonwealth Defendants and a private vendor of mental health care treatment providers agreed to settle injunctive claims and enter into formal agreements outlining far-reaching injunctive relief for the class.
  • Representing a number of individual claimants in vindicating the abrogation of their civil rights in employment discrimination matters pending in various legal forums, including the MCAD.

Jeremy can be reached at jweltman@kcl-law.com or 781-997-1600.