The answer is still no – unless you employ individuals in Illinois, Indiana, or Wisconsin. On April 4, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which covers Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, became the first U.S. Court of Appeals to rule that discrimination on the basis of sex under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 encompasses discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Hively v. Ivy Tech Cmty. Coll. of Indiana, No. 15-1720, 2017 WL 1230393 (7th Cir. Apr. 4, 2017).
On March 10, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which covers Alabama, Florida and Georgia, reached the opposite conclusion in Evans v. Georgia Reg’l Hosp., 850 F.3d 1248 (11th Cir. 2017). The court held that Title VII still does not protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The Court did find, however, that Title VII does protect against non-conformity with gender stereotypes.
Similarly, on March 27, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Connecticut, New York, and Vermont) held that, while Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of non-conformity with gender stereotypes, it does not protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Anonymous v. Omnicom Grp., Inc., 852 F.3d 195 (2d Cir. 2017).
Now that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has created a split in rulings amongst federal appellate courts, this issue is expected to reach the Supreme Court of the United States in coming years.
Although the Arizona Civil Rights Act also does not prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation, employers who do business in Tempe and Phoenix are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation under local Tempe and Phoenix ordinances.
Please call one of the attorneys at BurnsBarton LLP to ensure your anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies and practices comply with the law of the jurisdiction where you have employees.