When Jameka Evans went to work as a security guard at Georgia Regional Hospital in Savannah, she did not anticipate that being gay would be an issue. But she quickly learned she was wrong. During the 15 months that she worked there she says that she was harassed for being a lesbian, and then eventually fired. She filed a discrimination lawsuit against the hospital in April of 2015, claiming her termination violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, but her case was dismissed by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia and the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. She now plans to take her case to the Supreme Court, arguing that civil rights laws prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.
According to Evans, her termination was “due to the fact that I do not carry myself in a traditional woman manner. I am a gay female. I did not broadcast my sexuality. Although it is evident I identify with the male gender because I presented myself that way visually. … I worked hard at Georgia Regional Hospital because I needed that job to help me pay for school. It’s not fair that I could be forced out of my job because my supervisor doesn’t like that I am a lesbian and I don’t look like how he thinks a woman should look. I just want my day in court.”
Evans’ case is not the only LGBTQ workplace discrimination case that is making headlines. A New York skydiving instructor has also filed suit after having been fired for being gay. That case will likely be heard by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is expected to rule in the fired worker’s favor.
Attorneys watching the case believe that if the Supreme Court agrees to hear it, the door will be opened to clearing up uncertainty about LGBTQ workplace discrimination issues. Studies have shown that one in four lesbian, gay and bisexual employees have been the victim of employment discrimination based on their sexual orientation, and the statistics regarding transgender people are even worse, with almost half reporting workplace discrimination. An affirmative ruling by the Supreme Court would provide an answer where federal anti-discrimination protections don’t exist.
In the state of New Jersey, LGBTQ employees are protected from workplace discrimination by the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). If you have been harassed or faced discriminatory actions based on being a member of a protected class, we can help. Contact Schorr & Associates today for more information.