Most discrimination claims against Florida employers are based on Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act or under the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992. A relatively recent case in the federal appellate court that has jurisdiction over Florida federal courts held that claims based on sexual orientation are not covered by the federal law governing employment discrimination. Peter Mavrick, of the Mavrick Law Firm, is a Fort Lauderdale employment lawyer who regularly defends businesses against employment discrimination accusations, claims, and lawsuits.
In Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, 850 F.3d 1248 (11th Cir. 2017), the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals determined that a lesbian employee who claimed she was discharged because of her sexual orientation did not have an actionable claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The federal appellate court explained in pertinent part: “Evans next argues that she has stated a claim under Title VII by alleging that she endured workplace discrimination because of her sexual orientation. She has not.” The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals did not allow a claim based on sexual orientation based on Fifth Circuit precedent in Blum v. Gulf Oil Corp., 597 F.2d 936, 938 (5th Cir. 1979). The appellate court in Blum stated that “[d]ischarge for homosexuality is not prohibited by Title VII.”
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals also relied on case law from other federal appellate courts holding that sexual orientation discrimination is not actionable under Title VII. As examples, the Eleventh Circuit cited Higgins v. New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc., 194 F.3d 252, 259 (1st Cir. 1999) (“Title VII does not proscribe harassment simply because of sexual orientation”); Simonton v. Runyon, 232 F.3d 33, 36 (2d Cir. 2000) (“Simonton has alleged that he was discriminated against not because he was a man, but because of his sexual orientation. Such a claim remains non-cognizable under Title VII”); Bibby v Phila. Coca Cola Bottling Co., 260 F.3d 257, 261 (3d Cir. 2001) (“Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation”); Wrightson v. Pizza Hut of Am., 99 F.3d 138, 143 (4th Cir. 1996), abrogated on other grounds by Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Servs., 523 U.S. 75, 118 S.Ct. 998, 140 L.Ed.2d 201 (1998) (“Title VII does not afford cause for discrimination based upon sexual orientation….”); Vickers v. Fairfield Med. Ctr., 453 F.3d 757, 762 (6th Cir. 2006) (“[S]exual orientation is not a prohibited basis for discriminatory acts under Title VII”); Hamner v. St. Vincent Hosp. & Health Care Ctr., Inc., 224 F3.d 701, 704 (7th Cir. 2000) (“[H]arassment based solely upon a person’s sexual preference or orientation (and not on one’s sex) is not an unlawful employment practice under Title VII.”); Williamson v. A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc., 876 F.2d 69, 70 (8th Cir. 1989) (“Title VII does not prohibit discrimination against homosexuals”); Rene v. MGM Grand Hotel, Inc., 305 F.3d 1061, 1063-64 (9th Cir. 2002) (“[A]n employee’s sexual orientation is irrelevant for purposes of Title VII. It neither provides nor precludes a cause of action for sexual harassment. That the *1257 harasser is, or may be, motivated by hostility based on sexual orientation is similarly irrelevant, and neither provides nor precludes a cause of action”); Medina v. Income Support Div., 413 F.3d 1131, 1135 (10th Cir. 2005) (“Title VII’s protections, however, do not extend to harassment due to a person’s sexuality…. Congress has repeatedly rejected legislation that would have extended Title VII to cover sexual orientation”). Peter Mavrick is a Fort Lauderdale employment attorney who represents businesses and their owners.
The employment litigation attorneys at the Mavrick Law Firm have successfully represented many businesses in employment law claims in the Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach County areas encompassed by the Third and Fourth District Courts of Appeal, as well as Hillsborough, Sarasota, and other counties encompassed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeal. This article is not a substitute for legal advice tailored to a particular situation.