Funeral home punished for having man dress like a man
- Author: Tracy Klein Mar 10, 2018,
Mar 10, 2018, 0:56
On Wednesday, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a MI funeral home had unlawfully discriminated against a transgender employee when it fired her after she informed her employer that she would be presenting as a woman, in accordance with her gender identity. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes in MI "engaged in unlawful discrimination" against transgender employee Aimee Stephens under Title VII of the Civil Rights of 1964.
The EEOC learned that the funeral home, until fall 2014, provided clothing to male workers dealing with the public but not females.
Jay Kaplan is a staff attorney with the Michigan American Civil Liberties Union which is representing Stephens in this case.
Discrimination against a worker based on gender identity or because the person is transitioning between genders is sex discrimination that violates existing federal law, a federal appeals court held in a landmark ruling.
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".
The appellate judges also reversed the lower court's decision that religious beliefs could exempt employers from anti-discrimination laws.
"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.
"American business owners, especially those serving the grieving and the vulnerable, should be free to live and work consistently with their faith", Gary McCaleb, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, told Bloomberg Law in a March 7 email. "The unrefuted facts show that the funeral home fired Stephens because she refused to abide by her employer's stereotypical conception of her sex".
"[However] the Funeral Home is not affiliated with a church; it does not claim to have a religious objective in its articles of incorporation; it is open every day, including Christian holidays; and it serves clients of all faiths". "The SEP includes "coverage of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals under Title VII's sex discrimination provisions, as they may apply" as a top commission enforcement priority", said the EEOC. He added an appeal is being considered.
"So this ruling", he said, "affirms that that kind of firing is unlawful".
The panel's ruling also goes against a memorandum from the Trump administration issued last October in which Attorney General Jeff Sessions explained that Title VII's sex discrimination clause is about biological sex and not gender identity.
Anne Noel Occhiallino of the EEOC in Washington represented the commission.
Moore rejects the assertion Stephens' presentation as a woman would be a distraction for the deceased's loves ones at a funeral home, deriding the idea as "premised on presumed biases", as well as the notion it would place a burden on Rost's religious beliefs because he pays for attire for employees. ADF's Douglas G. Wardlow also represented R.G.
The case, Equal Employment Opportunity v. R.G.