November 28, 2016 Articles

Sexual Orientation and Gender Nonconformity: What Is “Actionable” under Title VII?

By Sidney O. Minter

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted primarily to protect minorities from discrimination in the workplace. Just before its enactment, the U.S. Congress included a provision related to "sex" discrimination. Because it was a last-minute add-on, however, our federal district and appellate courts have traditionally taken a position that "sex" should be applied very narrowly. Over the years, this view has changed as litigants have pushed for a broader interpretation of the term. Concurrently, our courts have been trying to determine the differences, if any, between sexual orientation and gender nonconformity discrimination. This has not proven to be an easy task.

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