Supreme Court (For Now) Refuses to Review Whether Sexual Orientation Discrimination Violates Title VII

On December 11, 2017, the Supreme Court of the United States denied a petition for certiorari -- a request that the Court review the decision of a lower court -- in the Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital matter, a case in which the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals decided that sexual orientation discrimination does not violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. We previously covered the Evans matter here.

While the Supreme Court's decision is most certainly frustrating to the LGBTQ community, it is not altogether surprising. As the Hospital's response to the cert petition made clear, Evans had never served the Hospital with process (i.e., never properly brought the Hospital under the federal courts' jurisdiction) and, as a result, the Hospital never fully participated in the adversarial process.

The Supreme Court didn't provide a reason for its denial of the petition, but this lack of participation was most likely central to its decision. Absent full participation and an exhaustive treatment of the issues, the Court is simply less likely to rule on an issue that will affect individuals across the country.

There are many others cases currently making their way through the federal courts in which the parties are arguing whether sexual orientation discrimination is prohibited under Title VII. With there now being a circuit split (the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in April 2017 that it does), the Supreme Court is nearly guaranteed to review this issue soon.