Companies cannot discriminate against LGBT employees, federal court rules | World news

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Companies cannot discriminate against LGBT employees in the workplace because of their sexual orientation, a federal appeals court said, in a ruling that a gay rights group called a “game changer”.

The 8-to-3 decision Tuesday by the full seventh US circuit court of appeals in Chicago is likely to lead to a battle before the supreme court over the interpretation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This is because a three-judge panel in Atlanta ruled the opposite three weeks ago.

“This decision is a game changer for lesbian and gay employees facing discrimination in the workplace and sends a clear message to employers: it is against the law to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation,” said Greg Nevins, of Lambda Legal, which advocates for LGBT issues.

The case stems from a lawsuit by an Indiana teacher, Kimberly Hively, alleging that the Ivy Tech community college in South Bend didn’t hire her full time because she is a lesbian.

In an opinion concurring with the majority, Judge Richard Posner wrote that evolving norms called for a change in interpretation of the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin or sex.

“I don’t see why firing a lesbian because she is in the subset of women who are lesbian should be thought any less a form of sex discrimination than firing a woman because she’s a woman,” wrote the judge, who was appointed by Republican Ronald Reagan.

The decision comes as Donald Trump’s administration has begun setting its own policies on LGBT rights. Late in January, the White House declared Trump would enforce an Obama administration order barring companies that do federal work from workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual…

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