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Supreme Court Will Get Chance to Ban Anti-Gay Job Discrimination

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Lambda Legal seeks decision saying existing civil rights laws cover sexual orientation.

By Ariane de Vogue
CNN

An LGBTQ legal advocacy group is appealing an employment discrimination case to the Supreme Court, the group announced Thursday, after a federal appeals court declined to rehear the case.

A full panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to rehear the case of Jameka Evans, a hospital security guard who says she was forced out because she is a lesbian.

Evans argues that her employer violated Title VII by discriminating against her because of her sexual orientation. Earlier, in March, a three-judge panel of the court denied her claim. Lambda Legal, the LGBTQ legal advocacy group, is representing her in the case.

Jameka Evans

The ruling is significant because it creates a split in the lower courts: The justices are more likely to take up a case if there is a split.

Gay rights groups are anxious for the issue to get before the justices particularly if Justice Anthony Kennedy—whose record has largely favored LGBTQ advocates—is considering retirement. Rumors have swirled for months that Kennedy could soon retire.

“The order today, strengthens the case that this issue needs to be decided on a national basis,” said Greg Nevins of Lambda Legal. “Supreme Court rules give us 90 days to appeal and we plan to put together the best petition we can.”

He added, “Civil Rights law protect not only sexual discrimination, but sexual orientation as well.”

Last April, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Kimberly Hively, an employee of Ivy Tech Community College, could bring her claim that the school violated civil rights law by sexual orientation bias.

“We conclude today that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination,” Judge Diane Wood wrote.

A full panel of judges in the Second Circuit is also considering a similar case.

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