On October 18, 2016, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decided to hold an en banc rehearing in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College. An en banc rehearing is an appeal of a decision in which all twelve active judges of the Seventh Circuit, rather than just three, will hear a case.
In Hively, a part-time adjunct professor brought a Title VII claim alleging that her contract was not renewed because she is a lesbian. The three judges of the appellate court who originally decided Hively reluctantly refused to recognize sexual orientation claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII generally protects employees from discrimination “because of. . . sex.” It has been the Seventh Circuit’s position that Title VII does not apply to sexual orientation claims. As discussed at length in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College, other federal appellate courts and the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission have taken the opposite approach. A full description of that decision can be found HERE.
The Seventh Circuit en banc decision may change how federal claims for sexual orientation discrimination are handled in Illinois and may change whether the Seventh Circuit recognizes sexual orientation as a protected class under Title VII.
Contact Cindi DeCola or Mary Karagiannis with your inquiries.