Judge sides with lesbian in employment discrimination case

A federal judge ruled in favor of a lesbian Cuyahoga County, Ohio, employee who sued the county for discriminating against her because of her sexual orientation.

Shari Hutchinson, who works for the county child support enforcement agency, sued the county because she believes she was denied promotions based on her sexual orientation and administrators retaliated against her when she complained.

U.S. District Judge James Gwin ruled that Hutchinson’s claim falls under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, which reads: “No state shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

But many of Hutchinson’s claims were thrown out because of a two year statue of limitations. The judge also rejected her complaint that the county discriminated by denying her a maximum $100-per-paycheck credit for opting out the county health plan, which is awarded to married employees. Hutchinson, who opted out in favor of her domestic partner’s insurance plan, said to the Cleveland Plain Dealer the “program’s failure to provide a similar opt-out incentive for the county’s homosexual employees amounts to sexual orientation discrimination.”

Ohio does not have employment non-discrimination legislation for LGBT people who are not state employees; however, Cuyahoga County has a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation.

The case will now proceed to trial, and the burden is still on Hutchinson to prove her claims.


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