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EEOC files brief regarding sex orientation discrimination

People in New Jersey may be interested in following a case that is winding its way through the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed an amicus brief in the case, arguing that discrimination based on sexual orientation is prohibited by the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The case involves a former college administrator who is a lesbian and is married to another woman. She alleges that she received good evaluations during her first two years of working for the College of Central Florida. She also claims she was told that she was on the way to becoming a college president. Later, she was demoted and a less-qualified male was given her job. She taught mathematics courses until her position was eliminated in budget cuts. While the school added adjunct positions, it would not consider her for one.

The woman filed a lawsuit claiming that she was discriminated against because of her sexual orientation as a form of gender discrimination. A lower court dismissed her case, saying that sexual orientation discrimination is not covered by Title VII. The EEOC is arguing that it is a type of gender discrimination and is thus prohibited.

When lower courts dismiss civil cases, appeals may be filed to the next higher court. If a plaintiff wins an appeal, then the case is returned to the lower court for further proceedings consistent with the appellate ruling. In the woman's case, if she wins at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, the case will be returned to the district court to proceed.

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