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Civil Rights Law Doesn’t Cover Transgender Workers, Trump Administration Tells Supreme Court

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  • The Department of Justice told the Supreme Court that federal civil rights law does not bar discrimination based on transgender status in a LGBT rights case the justices will hear in the autumn. 
  • The case arose when a transgender employee was dismissed from a Michigan funeral home for failure to abide by the employee dress code. 
  • The case pits the Justice Department against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal civil rights agency that believes transgender workers are covered under existing anti-discrimination rules. 

A workplace anti-discrimination law does not cover transgender employees, the Trump administration told the Supreme Court in a new legal filing.

The case has created an internal split within the executive branch over the reach of Title VII, the civil rights law governing employment practices.

“As it stands, Title VII prohibits treating an individual less favorably than similarly situated individuals of the opposite sex. It simply does not speak to discrimination because of an individual’s gender identity or a disconnect between an individual’s gender identity and the individual’s sex,” Solicitor General Noel Francisco told the justices in court documents.

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The dispute before the high court arose in 2013, when a funeral director at R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes told owner Tom Rost of a longstanding struggle with gender dysphoria. The employee, who identifies as a transgender woman and took the name Aimee Stephens, wished to present as female in the workplace. Rost is a Christian who operates his business consistent with his religious beliefs.

Rost requires employees to follow a sex-specific dress code in the workplace. Pursuant to Rost’s religious convictions, the dress code is administered in reference to biological sex, not gender identity. After concluding that Stephens would not comply with the company dress code as directed, Rost terminated their professional relationship.

“Maintaining a professional dress code that is not distracting to grieving families is an essential industry requirement that furthers their healing process,” Rost said in a 2016 affidavit.

Attorneys at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) counter that Harris Funeral Homes fired Stephens because “her appearance and behavior departed from its sex stereotypes.” Rost filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which ultimately sued Rost in federal court. The Alliance Defending Freedom represents Rost.

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The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Rost’s enforcement of the dress code reflects “stereotypical notions of how biologically male persons should dress, appear, behave, and identify.” As such, the panel said Stephens’s dismissal violated Title VII’s prohibition on sex-based discrimination.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear Stephens’s case in April. Two others cases the high court will hear at the same time ask whether Title VII also encompasses sexual orientation.

R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes in Garden City, Michigan. (Alliance Defending Freedom)

R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes in Garden City, Michigan. (Alliance Defending Freedom)

In its new filing, the Justice Department told the Court that “sex” as understood at Title VII’s adoption in 1964 meant biological sex, not transgender status. Since then, Congress has repeatedly adopted laws banning discrimination based on “sex” alongside “gender identity,” suggesting it does not understand the former to include the latter.

Elsewhere in the brief, the administration warned that the 6th Circuit’s decision would invalidate a range of sex-specific practices like separate restrooms. Stephens’s lawyers say the legality of sex-conscious policies is not at issue.

“The question in cases challenging the lawfulness or application of sex-specific policies is whether such policies discriminate in the terms or conditions of an individual’s employment — a question not presented here,” Stephens’s lawyers wrote in court documents.

All told, the Department stressed that sex discrimination exists only when employers treat members of one sex differently than their opposite-sex counterparts.

“Proving discrimination because of sex under Title VII requires showing that an employer treated members of one sex less favorably than similarly situated members of the other sex,” the administration said.

The EEOC, which administers Title VII, endorsed Stephens’s reading of the law in 2012. EEOC lawyers did not sign the DOJ brief, an indication that the agency does not support it.

The case is No. 18-107 R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC.

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About Kevin Daley

One comment

  1. Force Recon Marine

    There is no such thing as Transgenderism there are only two genders! There is no such thing as being GAY either unless it is descriptive of one’s feeling of glee. These Politically Correct terms are designed to give the illusion of abominable acts as being normal and acceptable.

    For the same reason there is no such thing as “transgender or transgenderism” There are only two genders determined by chromosomal make up PERIOD!!

    Goebbels had it right when he said if you tell a lie long and loud enough the lie becomes accepted as fact Then any ensuing lie is deemed the truth. That is how Political Correctness is designed to work.

    Political Correctness is a manipulative tool employed by the left for centralizing power to end all debate on all subjects frowned upon by the one dimensional regressive Lieberal left!! That way they needn’t have to have the means to defend their agenda just employ the standard deflective tools ingrained in the vacuum between their ears!!

    Political Correctness has the power to dictate one’s policies onto everyone else!!

    Political Correctness is meant to silence those who disagree with one dimensional regressive hypocritical politically correct socialist-communist Lieberal doctrine/tenet!!

    Politically correct language… is designed to make abominable actions (being QUEER) acceptable, lies sound truthful, murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to hot air. Pure wind.

    Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.

    Political Correctness is America’s newest form of intolerance, and it is especially pernicious because it comes disguised as tolerance

    Political Correctness is fascism pretending to be Manners

    Wiley’s Dictionary Definition of Political Correctness — Silence the logical conclusion of politically correct speech.

    Political Correctness is a tsunami of raw sewage!!!

    If anyone takes the time to notice my avatar they would see that I abhor Political Correctness. In fact I believe myself to be the LEAST Politically Correct person in America. With that said, I refuse to water myself down because people cannot handle me at 200 proof!!!

    So I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of or calls me I REFUSE to bow to Political Correctness and change for no one!!!

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