Joseph Greenwald & Laake principal Jay Holland commented Monday on a Law360 article regarding a Supreme Court denial of Certiorari in the recent Eleventh Circuit ruling of Jameka Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital.
In April 2015, Evans sued Georgia Regional Hospital in the state’s federal court, claiming that the hospital violated Title VII because they fired her for being a lesbian and for dressing and acting outside of typical gender norms. The Eleventh Circuit majority held that discharge for homosexuality is not prohibited by Title VII, using the Fifth Circuit’s Blum v. Gulf Oil Corp. (1979) case as a precedent.
Evans replead her case, using the Supreme Court ruling of Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins (1989) as a precedent, which held that Title VII bars employers from discriminating against workers who don’t fit sex stereotypes. She was denied, and appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing in her Petition for Certiorari that discrimination because of sex includes sexual orientation. She noted the Seventh Circuit decision in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College (2017), in which Chief Circuit Judge Diane P. Wood noted that it is “impossible to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without discriminating on the basis of sex.”
Holland said that while the Petition for Certiorari was denied in this case, it is only a matter of time before the justices take up the Title VII question, since both the plaintiff’s attorneys and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission treat the law as though it covers sexual orientation.
“It may well be that for reasons none of us could know, the court felt that the Eleventh Circuit wasn’t the right vehicle to decide the issue,” he said in the article. “I don’t think that this is the end of the story as it relates to whether or not the Supreme Court will hear it.”
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Jay Holland is a principal in JGL’s Civil Litigation Group, and the chair of the firm’s Labor, Employment and Qui Tam Whistleblower practice. He is a renowned employment and qui tam litigator known for taking on tough cases and achieving exceptional results.