Bias Against Transgender Workers Is Sex Bias Under Federal Law (1)

An appeals court has ruled in favor of a transgender woman who says she was illegally fired by a Metro Detroit funeral home while transitioning from a male to female. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes in Detroit fired her after she disclosed her intention to transition.

The Sixth Circuit decision reverses a lower court, granting judgment to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on whether Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act's covers transgender workers.

Stephens said in a statement released by the American Civil Liberties Union that nobody "should be fired from their job just for being who they are", adding "I'm thrilled with the court's decision".

The decision means transgender workers in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee-which make up the Sixth Circuit-don't have to provide additional evidence that the bias they allegedly faced was also based on illegal sex stereotyping or "gender nonconforming" behavior.

The judge adopted former President Obama's belief that when Congress adopted the Title IX non-discrimination law in 1972, members intended it to include not only a persons" "physiology" but also their "self-assigned "gender identity'". The appeals court rejected the argument that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act justified the firing of a Stephens.

"We hold that the Funeral Home does not qualify for the ministerial exception to Title VII; the Funeral Home's religious exercise would not be substantially burdened by continuing to employ Stephens without discriminating against her on the basis of sex stereotypes; the EEOC has established that it has a compelling interest in ensuring the Funeral Home complies with Title VII; and the enforcement of Title VII is necessarily the least restrictive way to achieve that compelling interest", said the ruling.

Gary McCaleb is an attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the funeral home. "This opinion instead re-writes federal law and is directly contrary to decisions from other federal appellate courts".

Court Rules In Favor Of Fired Transgender Garden City Funeral Director

Cox said the funeral home was protected by a religious exemption under federal law, but the appeals court disagreed, reversed the ruling Wednesday, March 7, and sent the case back to the District Court for further proceedings. "Only a small segment of people would want to have a man dressed as a woman conducting services at a funeral home or cemetery".

In essence, the Sixth Circuit establishes two milestones with the decision. McCabe said his organization is "consulting with our client to consider their options for appeal".

The EEOC said in a September 2014 lawsuit filed on her behalf that the funeral home violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in terminating her. "It's unconscionable that an employer would fire her simply because she began to live and dress in a manner consistent with her gender identity", Laser said in a statement.

The case is the latest to weigh in on whether Title VII relates to gender identity and sexual orientation, something the Department of Justice has fought under Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

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

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.

However, it erred "in finding that Stephens could not alternatively pursue a claim that she was discriminated against on the basis of her transgender and transitioning status", said the ruling.

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(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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