Lambda Legal on Thursday asked the US Supreme Court to review the case of Jameka Evans, a Savannah security guard who was reportedly physically assaulted, harassed, denied equal pay and forced to leave her job because she is a lesbian. The goal of the petition is a nationwide ruling that sexual orientation discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“It’s time for LGBT people everywhere to be protected against employment discrimination. The ability to put a roof over your head and feed your family is one of the most basic needs, and freedom from discrimination is an essential part of that,” said Greg Nevins, Employment Fairness Project Director for Lambda Legal. “We need the highest court in the land to review this case, consider the vital rights at stake, and settle the issue once and for all to ensure that getting or keeping a job shouldn’t depend on your sexual orientation.”
In April 2015, Evans filed suit against her former employer, Georgia Regional Hospital, claiming it violated Title VII via gender-based discrimination.
“My supervisor at Georgia Regional Hospital did not like that I was a lesbian who didn’t fit his stereotype of how a woman should look,” Evans said in a prior statement. “It is heartbreaking to know that no matter how good I was at my job, being a lesbian with a short haircut meant I would never be good enough.”
The US District Court in Georgia dismissed her complaint, claiming Title VII does not offer gender-based protections. In January 2016, Lambda Legal filed an appeal on Evans’ behalf, citing rulings by several federal district courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that show sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, and therefore is “a prohibited employment practice.” In March 2017, the three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit denied Evans’ claim. Lambda Legal then asked the whole Eleventh Circuit court to rehear the case, but they were declined.
And now, they’re taking a shot at the highest court in the land.
With Thursday’s filing, Lambda Legal also launched Out At Work, a campaign to support Evans’ case and bring awareness to LGBT people of their Title VII rights.
Read the petition Lambda Legal filed today here.