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Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital

GLAD and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), along with 8 other LGBT and civil rights groups, today submitted an amicus brief urging the United States Supreme Court to grant cert in Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital. The case involves the harassment and effective termination of Jameka Evans from her job as a hospital security guard, because she is a lesbian.

At issue is the interpretation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and whether the prohibition against sex-based discrimination can be used to protect gay, lesbian and bisexual people against sexual orientation discrimination.

The brief submitted by GLAD, NCLR, and others states:

“In the absence of guidance from this Court, the courts of appeals have developed a fractured and unworkable approach to sex discrimination claims brought by gay, lesbian, and bisexual employees—one premised on a false distinction between discrimination based on sexual orientation and discrimination based on failure to conform to sex stereotypes.  As amici explain here, that distinction is fundamentally arbitrary and impossible to apply with any degree of consistency or fairness.”

The case has been brought by Lambda Legal, and the amicus brief was written by Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP. GLAD and NCLR submitted the brief along with the Anti-Defamation League, Family Equality Council, Freedom for All Americans, Human Rights Campaign, Legal Aid Society, the Mazzoni Center, OutServe-SLDN, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders, and the Trevor Project.

Read more about this case

Waddell v. Valley Forge Dental Associates

GLAD filed a friend of the court brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the case of an HIV-positive dental hygienist who was fired after his doctor revealed his HIV status to his employer. A federal appellate court in Atlanta had ruled that the hygienist was a “direct threat” to patients and therefore that his termination was not a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In contrast to the cases in which courts have ruled against doctors who refused treatment to HIV-positive patients arguing a “direct threat” (see discussion of Bragdon v. Abbott, below), courts have reacted to cases involving discrimination against HIV-positive health care providers with irrational fear and disregard for the scientific evidence. In effect, the courts have required proof of zero threat from the health care worker, a virtually impossible standard. Although the Supreme Court declined to decide this case and clarify what “direct threat” should mean in this context, the willingness of courts around the country to uphold the termination of HIV-positive health care workers who perform invasive procedures remains one of the most pressing legal challenges ahead.