On April 4, 2017, the Seventh Circuit handed down a divided en banc opinion in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College, opening a circuit split on how to interpret Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on "race, color, religion, sex, or national origin[.]" In Hively, the Seventh Circuit became the first Court of Appeals to hold that sex discrimination encompasses discrimination based on sexual orientation. It held that plaintiff Kimberly Hively could pursue a claim against her former employer, Ivy Tech Community College, for her firing, which she claimed was motivated by her sexual orientation. In doing so, the court opened a split with the Eleventh Circuit, which had held just a few months earlier that employer decisions based on sexual orientation were not discrimination prohibited by Title VII. In addition to paving the way for a potential Supreme Court case to resolve the issue, the Seventh Circuit's decision includes an array of opinions demonstrating different methods of statutory interpretation.
- Kenneth A. Klukowski, General Counsel, American Civil Rights Union
- Prof. Anthony Michael Kreis, Visiting Assistant Professor of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law