Horton v. Midwest Geriatric Management, LLC
National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to find that sexual orientation discrimination violates Title VII of the 1964 federal Civil Rights Act because it is a form of sex discrimination.
The brief argues that earlier court decisions dating back to the 1970s, which barred lesbian and gay people from bringing employment discrimination claims under Title VII, have led to what the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals called a “confused hodge-podge of cases.” That exclusion has caused lower courts to reach inconsistent results and erected unique barriers to sex discrimination claims by lesbian, gay, and bisexual people that other employees do not face.
The case, titled Horton v. Midwest Geriatric Management, LLC, was brought by Mark Horton, who was offered a job as Vice President of Sales and Marketing, only to have the offer withdrawn after the company learned he had a same-sex partner. A U.S. district court in Missouri dismissed his Title VII claim based on a case from the 1980s stating that Title VII does not protect lesbian, gay, and bisexual people from discrimination. Horton is represented by Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Within the past year, two federal courts of appeals, the New York-based Second Circuit and the Chicago-based Seventh Circuit, have overruled their previous precedent barring lesbian and gay people who experience workplace discrimination from bringing claims under Title VII. A favorable decision by the Eighth Circuit would extend federal sexual orientation nondiscrimination protections to workers in Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota, joining workers in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, New York, Connecticut, Vermont, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, who already enjoy those protections because of the recent decisions.