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Evans v. Ga. Reg'l Hosp. - 850 F.3d 1248 (11th Cir. 2017)

Rule:

Discrimination based on failure to conform to a gender stereotype is sex-based discrimination. Specifically, discrimination against a transgender individual because of gender-nonconformity is sex discrimination. All persons, whether transgender or not, are protected from discrimination on the basis of gender stereotype, and because those protections apply to everyone, a transgender individual can not be excluded. A gender non-conformity claim is not just another way to claim discrimination based on sexual orientation, but instead, constitutes a separate, distinct avenue for relief under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But, under this, discharge for homosexuality is not prohibited.

Facts:

Plaintiff, who is a gay women, was previously employed at the Georgia Regional Hospital as a security officer, where she claimed that she was discriminated against on the basis of her sex and targeted for termination for failing to carry herself in a traditional womanly manner. During her employment, she was denied equal pay or work, harassed and physically assaulted or battered. She filed the present complaint alleging favoritism, inconsistent and unfair practices and inappropriate conduct. The magistrate judge recommended for the dismissal of all claims, ruling that plaintiff’s claim of discrimination based on her sexual orientation anchored on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was not intended to cover discrimination against homosexuals, and that the plaintiff’s claim of discrimination based on gender non-conformity is merely another way to claim discrimination based on sexual orientation. The district court dismissed the case.

Issue:

Is discrimination based on gender non-conformity actionable?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that a complaint grounded on Title VII need not allege facts sufficient to make out a classic prima facie case, but must simply provide enough factual matter to plausibly suggest intentional discrimination. Even though the Court recognizes that discrimination based on gender non-conformity is actionable, plaintiff’s complaint nevertheless failed to plead facts sufficient to create a plausible inference that she suffered discrimination; she did not provide enough factual matter to plausibly suggest that her decision to present herself in a masculine manner led to the adverse employment actions. Therefore, while a dismissal of plaintiff Evan's gender non-conformity claim would have been appropriate on this basis, these circumstances entitle Evans an opportunity to amend her complaint one time unless doing so would be futile.

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