The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday announced it won’t hear a case seeking protecting for lesbian, gay and bisexual workers under existing civil rights law barring sex discrimination.
The court announced it denied a writ of certiorari in Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital as part of an order list Monday reflecting decisions made justices at a conference last week Friday. It takes a vote of four justices to agree to take up a case, although the vote isn’t made public.
The petition, filed in September by the LGBT group Lambda Legal, sought clarification the nationwide prohibition on sex discrimination in the workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to cases of lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
Although the order list indicates the Supreme Court denied certiorari in the case, the court allows the filing of the friend-of-the-court briefs from 76 business and organizations, anti-discrimination scholars, LGBT groups including GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, as well as legal scholar David Boyle.
Greg Nevins, Lambda Legal’s Employment Fairness Project Director, expressed disappointment in a statement the Supreme Court refused to take up the case.
“By declining to hear this case, the Supreme Court is delaying the inevitable and leaving a split in the circuits that will cause confusion across the country,” Nevins said. “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.”
Lambda Legal filed the petition after the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Jameka Evans, a security guard who claims she was targeted for harassment and effectively terminated from her job at Georgia Regional Hospital for being a lesbian.
Bucking a nationwide trend of court rulings, a three-judge panel on 11th Circuit determined Title VII afforded Evans no basis for relief because sexual orientation is separate from sex discrimination. Earlier this year, the full 11th Circuit refused to reconsider the decision “en banc,” or before the full court, prompting Lamdba Legal to file the petition.
Those rulings stood in contrast to a decision by the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College, which found gay protections under Title VII. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. agency charged with enforcing federal employment non-discrimination law, determined in 2015 sexual-orientation discrimination amounts to unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII.
However, the U.S. Justice Department under U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has argued against gay protections under Title VII. In a separate case on the same issue before the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Hashim Mooppan argued the prohibition on sex discrimination doesn’t apply to lesbian, gay and bisexual people because Congress for decades has resisted spelling out sexual-orientation discrimination is illegal.
The Supreme Court may get another chance very shortly to determine whether Title VII bars sexual-orientation discrimination. The Second Circuit may render a decision in the Zarda case soon, enabling the losing party to file a petition of certiorari before the Supreme Court for relief.
This article was originally published on Washington Blade. Read the original article.