Medical

Court: Discrimination against transgender employees violates Title VII

Court: Discrimination against transgender employees violates Title VII

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of a federal law that bans sex bias in the workplace and prohibits discrimination against transgender workers, according to Reuters. "RFRA provides the Funeral Home with no relief because continuing to employ Stephens would not, as a matter of law, substantially burden Rost's religious exercise, and even if it did, the EEOC has shown that enforcing Title VII here is the least restrictive means of furthering its compelling interest in combating and eradicating sex discrimination".

"Discrimination on the basis of transgender and transitioning status is necessarily discrimination on the basis of sex", one of the judges wrote in the ruling. "Thus, if the EEOC's complaint had alleged that the funeral home fired Stephens based exclusively upon Stephens' status as a transgender person, then this court would agree with the funeral home that the EEOC's complaint fails to state a claim under Title VII", the ruling states. She said his employment was terminated "on the basis of her transgender or transitioning status and her refusal to conform to sex-based stereotypes".

Stephens claim was supported by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed suit in 2017.

In a statement from the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Stephens in the case, her lawyers called the decision an important victory for transgender workers. The court ruled that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) protects the freedom of a business to maintain a dress code consistent with its sincerely held faith convictions.

The court described the mission statement as: "T$3 he Funeral Home's "highest priority is to honor God in all that we do as a company and as individuals" and includes a verse of scripture on the bottom of the mission statement webpage".

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.




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.

Joining in Moore in the decision is U.S. Circuit Judge Jeffrey White, an appointee of George W. Bush; and U.S. Circuit Judge Bernice Donald, an Obama appointee. But, two weeks after asking for support as she began presenting as a woman, her boss, Thomas Rost, told her they found it unacceptable for her to being dressing as a woman, and let her go. "In too many workplaces around the country, coming out as trans is a fireable offense, as our client Aimee Stephens personally experienced". Regardless of employers religious beliefs, they are not allowed to discriminate against their employees based on gender or sexuality. "Tolerating Stephens's understanding of her sex and gender identity is not tantamount to supporting it", the appeals court said. "Aimee's identity had no bearing on how well she performed her job".

"The funeral home's dress code is tailored to serve those mourning the loss of a loved one", ADF attorney Gary McCaleb said.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented Mr. Rost, said the court's ruling plowed over his religious rights. "This opinion instead re-writes federal law and is directly contrary to decisions from other federal appellate courts".

"Court opinions should interpret legal terms according to their plain meaning when Congress passed the law", he said. "We are consulting with our client to consider their options for appeal".


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