Tag Archives: LGBT

6th Circuit Holds Firing Because of Transgender Status Violates Title VII

Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, which covers Tennessee, Michigan, Kentucky and Ohio, issued a significant Title VII ruling.  In EEOC v. R.G &G.R. Harris Funeral Homes the Court held that discrimination on the basis of transgender and transitioning status is sex discrimination in violation of Title VII.

The EEOC sued the funeral home after it fired an employee, Stephens, who was transitioning from male to female.  It was undisputed that Stephens was fired because he was “no longer going to represent himself as a man” and “wanted to dress like a woman”.  In 2016  a Michigan  District Court dismissed the case based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (‘RFRA”),  because the employer’s sincerely held religious belief “is that a person’s sex is an immutable God-given gift”.  The EEOC appealed.

In reversing the District Court and rejecting the RFRA defense the Court of Appeals held that Stephens was fired because of her failure to conform to sex stereotypes, in violation of Title VII.   While this type of claim has been recognized under Title VII since 1989 when it comes to men and women not conforming to the traditional stereotypes for their gender ( e.g. “you are not feminine enough”‘; “you dress too masculine”), the 6th Circuit took it a step further with this holding:

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.”

This is a landmark ruling that employers located within the 6th Circuit must adhere to going forward.  If you have questions about how it impacts your business, give us a call.

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Executive Order Will Ban Discrimination Against LGBT By Federal Govt. Contractors

Today President Obama will sign an Executive Order banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by federal contractors.  The Order will protect lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals, commonly referred to collectively as LGBT.

The Order will not include a religious based exception other than one already in place for religious organizations.  This is apparently a response to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Hobby Lobby, which held that closely held companies cannot be required to provide “contraception coverage” if they object to doing so on religious grounds.

If you are doing business with the federal government make sure you check out this Executive Order and if it applies to your business, comply with it in all respects.

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