EEOC v. RG & GR Harris Funeral Homes

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Status: Open
Court:
United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Issues: Religious Exemptions

Lambda Legal filed an amicus brief in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman fired by her employer for her gender identity. At issue in the case are both an employment discrimination claim and a religious exemptions issue.

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The employer, RG & GR Harris Funeral Homes, said it would be “unacceptable” for Aimee to dress as a woman. She filed an EEOC complaint, and the EEOC sued the funeral home for sex discrimination (under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act). The district court agreed that Aimee’s firing was in violation of the Civil Rights Act’s protections, but said that the funeral home was entitled to an exemption under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The EEOC appealed the decision, and the ACLU and its Michigan chapter joined the case on behalf of Aimee. Lambda Legal filed its brief in support of Aimee.

On March 7, 2018, the Sixth Circuit issued a robust decision in favor of Aimee on both the employment discrimination claim (affirming that the Civil Rights Act covers transgender workers) and the religious exemption claim (rejecting the funeral home’s claim that they had a right to discriminate based on religious beliefs).