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So - Are LGBTQ Rights Protected Under Federal Employment Law or Not?


The most accurate answer to this question is, “it depends.”

While that answer can also be a frustrating one, it really is the best answer. In early 2017, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals determined LGBTQ protections, however the final decision wasn’t as clear-cut as many headlines made it appear. There were declarations that the court decided sexual orientation is NOT a protected characteristic under federal law (Title VII), and while that was technically correct, it was also misleading.



Dabney D. Ware

Foley & Lardner LLP

Dabney D. Ware is senior counsel in Foley & Lardner’s Jacksonville office. A member of the firm’s Litigation Department, and its Labor and Employment Practice Group, she focuses her practice in the area of labor and employment law. Ms. Ware has extensive experience both in employment-related litigation, and in counseling clients on all aspects of compliance with the myriad of federal, state, and local laws. Prior to attending law school, Ms. Ware worked as a manager for First Florida Bank and as a program auditor for the Florida Office of Auditor General. Ms. Ware graduated from the University of Florida College of Law, with honors, where she was editor-in-chief of the Florida Law Review. She holds an M.S. degree in communication theory and research from Florida State University, and a B.S. degree in communication from Appalachian State University. Ms. Ware is admitted to practice in Florida and Georgia, and is a member of the Labor and Employment Law Sections of both the American Bar and The Florida Bar.

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