Federal appeals court rules for fired transgender funeral director

Federal appeals court rules for fired transgender funeral director”

A federal court has rejected a funeral home's claim that it was legal to fire a transgender employee because of "religious freedom".

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) [official website] pursued the claim on behalf of Aimee Stephens, a former employee of Defendant-Appellant R.G. and G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. & G.R. Harris Funeral Home in Garden City from 2007 until her firing in 2013.

Transgender status is a protected trait under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, said a federal appeals court in a Wednesday ruling involving a transgendered individual's termination by a funeral home that overturns a lower court decision.

The district court ruled only the unlawful termination claim was at issue, and that argument then was rejected, because transgenderism is not a protected class under Title VII.

A unanimous three-judge appeals court panel said, "The district court correctly determined that Stephens was sacked because of her failure to conform to sex stereotyping in violation of Title VII".

"It also ensures that employers will not be able to use their religious beliefs against trans employees, ruling that there is no "right to discriminate" in the workplace", Knight added.

Rost, who was provided free legal representation by anti-LGBT evangelical law firm Alliance Defending Freedom, also claimed that his actions were protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a 1993 United States law that bolstered protections for people based on "freedom of religion".

According to Kaplan, employment discrimination against transgender people is pervasive and, as a result, many live in poverty; so this decision "gives a great deal of hope to a lot of people out there".

Harris Funeral Homes was represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom. "Tolerating Stephens's understanding of her sex and gender identity is not tantamount to supporting it", the appeals court said. McCabe said his organization is "consulting with our client to consider their options for appeal".

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"But this ruling affirms that that is illegal, setting an important precedent confirming that transgender people are protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act", Knight said.

"[However] the Funeral Home is not affiliated with a church; it does not claim to have a religious goal in its articles of incorporation; it is open every day, including Christian holidays; and it serves clients of all faiths". "We are thrilled for Aimee, and for all trans folks, to be able to announce this win today".

The Sixth Circuit strongly dismissed the notion that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act "can be used as a tool to discriminate", Nevins said March 7.

"Including protection for gender identity under Title VII would threaten the religious liberty of people like Tom Rost who operate their businesses according to the principles of their faith".

"The essential element of sex discrimination under Title VII is that employees of one sex must be treated worse than similarly situated employees of the other sex, and sexual orientation discrimination simply does not have that effect", the Justice Department argued in an amicus brief it filed in a sex discrimination case before the 2nd Circuit in July.

Anne Noel Occhiallino of the EEOC in Washington represented the commission.

Moore's opinion referenced Anthony Stephens, the employee who complained about the funeral home's practice, as "her". ADF's Douglas G. Wardlow also represented R.G.

Dan Korobkin, ACLU of Michigan's deputy legal director, said he doesn't know what the legal remedy will be, but cases of this nature often result in some sort of compensation for the person's loss of employment.

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