Saturday, 23 June, 2018

Federal appeals court rules for fired transgender funeral director

Court Rules In Favor Of Fired Transgender Garden City Funeral Director Court rules against funeral home that fired employee for being transgender
Ben Pena | 09 March, 2018, 15:39

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.

The 6th Circuit's decision is also notable because it is the third such decision handed down by a federal appeals court finding that transgender people are protected by provisions within Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that prohibit sex-based discrimination. The Funeral Home argued that Title VII should not be enforced in this case, because doing so would "constitute an unjustified substantial burden upon Rost's (and thereby the Funeral Home's) sincerely held religious beliefs, in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)".

"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. She said his employment was terminated "on the basis of her transgender or transitioning status and her refusal to conform to sex-based stereotypes".

After filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the organization sued the funeral home on her behalf.

Jay Kaplan is a staff attorney with the Michigan American Civil Liberties Union which is representing Stephens in this case.

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

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'". 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.

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"In too many workplaces around the country, coming out as trans is a fireable offense, as our client Aimee Stephens personally experienced", he said in a statement.

Although the Trump administration isn't a party to the case, the ruling is a blow to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who issued a memo asserting transgender people aren't covered under Title VII despite legal precedent and another memo in favor of religious freedom that critics say green lights anti-LGBT discrimination.

Nor does compliance with Title VII amount to an endorsement of Stephens' views, the appeals court said.

Rachel Laser, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church & State, said in a statement the decision "rights a grievous wrong and protects our core values of religious freedom, fairness and equality". "Tolerating Stephens's understanding of her sex and gender identity is not tantamount to supporting it", the appeals court said.

Moore's reputation was noted by Ballotpedia, which explained she protected the immunity of a judge who viciously removed a lawyer with whom he had a conflict, causing him to lose his job. Today's decision misreads court precedents that have long protected businesses which properly differentiate between men and women in their dress and grooming policies.

Gary McCaleb, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, said the Sixth Circuit was erroneous in its conclusions. However, according to Reuters, this week's case in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court is the first to consider a religious defense in a case.

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