February 16, 2020

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Louisiana Supreme Court Rejects Governor’s Appeal of LGBT Executive Order Ruling

On March 23, 2018, in a 4–3 decision, the Louisiana Supreme Court refused to consider Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards’s appeal of the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal’s November 1, 2017, decision holding that Governor Edwards lacked the constitutional authority to issue an executive order protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) state employees from discrimination. More specifically, the Louisiana Supreme Court let stand the First Circuit’s ruling that Executive Order JBE 2016 – 11, which sought to protect the rights of LGBT individuals and other protected classes from discrimination by Louisiana agencies, departments, and contractors was unconstitutional.

We previously reported that Governor Edwards had filed a writ for review to the Louisiana Supreme Court, asking the court to hear arguments challenging the First Circuit’s affirmance of a lower court decision. The Louisiana Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal. The court’s refusal is the final decision on Executive Order JBE 2016 – 11. The order is unconstitutional as a matter of law.

In a written statement, Governor Edwards expressed disappointment after his narrow loss: “I, for one, do not think discrimination of any kind has a place in our society, much less the workplace,” he said. “Unfortunately, this puts us on the wrong side of history.”

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry—Governor Edwards’s opponent in this dispute—heralded the ruling in a written statement: “We commend the Supreme Court on its decision . . . regarding the Governor’s unconstitutional Executive Order, JBE 2016-11. Hopefully, this will end the Governor’s waste of precious taxpayer resources in defense of his unconstitutional actions. The Governor should live within the Constitution; and I will continue to stand for the separation of powers and the rule of law.”

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About this Author

Andrew P. Burnside, Ogletree Deakins, Employment Law Matters Lawyer, Trade Secrets Attorney

Drew Burnside represents employers in federal and state courts, as well as federal and state administrative agencies, in employment law matters. Drew is admitted in Louisiana and Texas.

Drew has received an “AV” Preeminent Peer Review Rating by Martindale-Hubbell and was on the editorial board of Tulane Maritime Law Journal at Tulane University. He is a chapter editor of and contributing author to The Family and Medical Leave Act treatise, published by BNA. Drew also was contributing author to The Developing Labor Law (3rd ed. BNA).

Hal D. Ungar, Ogletree Deakins, personal injury attorney, insurance law

Hal D. Ungar brings eight years of practical experience to his diverse practice, which includes the fields of labor and employment, construction, admiralty, personal injury and insurance law. His vast litigation experience includes employment and labor matters, construction related disputes involving breach of contract and other contractor related issues, class action defense, MDL, and personal injury.

Mr. Ungar has previously served as lead counsel on numerous labor and employment, construction/contractor, admiralty and personal injury matters at the partner level. He has also served as second chair/assistant lead trial attorney, in the formal trial setting, on a variety of civil litigation matters including labor and employment cases (judicial and agency), Hurricane Katrina insurance claims, toxic tort, general personal injury, and workers’ compensation.