Court rules in favor of fired transgender funeral director

Court rules in favor of fired transgender funeral director

A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of a woman who was sacked by a Garden City funeral home after she disclosed she was transitioning from male to female, and began dressing like a woman. "Aimee's identity had no bearing on how well she performed her job".

Aimee Australia Stephens, formerly known as William Anthony Beasley Stephens, worked for R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, which has locations in Detroit, Garden City, and Livonia.

"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 funeral home's dress code is tailored to serve those mourning the loss of a loved one". "I'm thrilled with the court's decision". "The unrefuted facts show that the Funeral Home fired Stephens because she refused to abide by her employer's stereotypical conception of her sex, and therefore the EEOC is entitled to summary judgment as to its unlawful-termination claim".

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

"The court finds that the funeral home has met its initial burden of showing that enforcement of Title VII, and the body of sex-stereotyping case law that has developed under it, would impose a substantial burden on its ability to conduct business in accordance with its sincerely-held religious beliefs", wrote Cox.

In Aug. 2016, U.S. District Court Judge Sean F. Cox ruled that Harris Funeral Homes could claim protection under RFRA.

"[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".

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He does not discriminate in his hiring.

The funeral home has since instituted a $150-per-year clothing stipend for women employees required to comply with the dress code. The appellate judges ruled that it was reasonable for the EEOC to investigate and discover the "seemingly discriminatory clothing-allowance policy".

Rost dismissed Stephens when he announced he would dress as a woman going forward.

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.

But Moore discounted Rost's explanation that "the Bible teaches that a person's sex (whether male or female) is an immutable God-given gift and that it is wrong for a person to deny his or her God-given sex" and that "the Bible teaches it is wrong for a biological male to deny his sex by dressing as a woman". For example, under the arguments put forth by Rost, an exemption from nondiscrimination laws could allow employers to police their employees' reproductive decisions, refuse to place women in managerial positions, or require employees to wear the symbols of a religion that they may not practice.

Obama issued an executive order to that effect for schools across the nation that was reversed by President Trump.

Attorney Doug Wardlow, who represented the business in the case v. the EEOC said Stephens violated the company's sex-specific dress code and that employees are simply asked to dress "in a manner sensitive to grieving family members and friends".

"So this ruling", he said, "affirms that that kind of firing is unlawful".

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