Medicine

Federal appeals court gives workplace non-discrimination protection to transgender individuals

Federal appeals court gives workplace non-discrimination protection to transgender individuals

The court delivered its ruling March 7.

Several U.S. courts had previously ruled that discriminating against transgender workers is a form of unlawful sex bias. "We understand that courts are grappling with the theories we have put before them". But this ruling affirms that that is illegal, setting an important precedent confirming that transgender people are protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The court ruled against R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc., that she was undergoing a gender transition to female from male and meant to start dressing as a female, according to the ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. R.G.

The case now will return to Cox's courtroom for additional work, including the EEOC's claim that the funeral home's clothing allowance policy was discriminatory.

The case will now be sent back to the lower court.

"The funeral home's dress code is tailored to serve those mourning the loss of a loved one", ADF attorney Gary McCaleb said. "It does address the funeral home's religious excuse in a comprehensive and powerful way".

"Discrimination on the basis of transgender and transitioning status is necessarily discrimination on the basis of sex, and thus the EEOC should have had the opportunity to prove that the Funeral Home violated Title VII by firing Stephens because she is transgender and transitioning from male to female", said the decision. "Court opinions should interpret legal terms according to their plain meaning when Congress passed the law". "This opinion instead re-writes federal law and is directly contrary to decisions from other federal appellate courts".

In a 2016 interview with WWJ, Wardlow said his client was simply looking out for the best interests of the bereaved, adding that "Numerous courts have recognized that companies may differentiate between men and women in their dress and grooming policies without violating Title VII".

The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Stephens as an intervenor in the case, said it was "thrilled" with the outcome.

"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. The court further found that Rotz was not afforded protection under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) [text, PDF] because Title VII does not substantially burden Rotz's ability to freely exercise his religion, and the government's interest in protecting employees from sex discrimination outweighs protection under RFRA.

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"They made it clear that an employer's religious beliefs, no matter how sincerely held, do not create a license to discriminate against transgender people", said Kaplan.

& G.R. Harris Funeral Homes "engaged in unlawful discrimination" against Stephens under Title VII of the Civil Rights of 1964.

"A lot of people are breathing a sigh of relief" after seeing that part of the court's decision, Gregory Nevins, a senior attorney with Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc.in Atlanta, told Bloomberg Law.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which filed an amicus brief supporting Stephens, praised the court's decision.

It's being called a big win with national significance for transgender rights.

The same day the 6th Circuit ruled in favor of Stephens and the EEOC, Lambda Legal filed an appeal in the 8th Circuit on behalf of health care salesman Mark Horton, whose offer of employment at Midwest Geriatric Management (MGM) in Missouri was rescinded when his prospective employer learned of Horton's sexual orientation.

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".

Judge Karen Nelson Moore wrote the opinion, which was joined by Judges Helene N. White and Bernice B. Donald.

A three-judge panel on the court found that R.G.


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