October 13, 2016 at 7:44 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
EEOC appeals ruling enabling anti-trans bias at funeral home
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EEOC has appealed a ruling enabling a funeral home to discriminate in the name of “religious freedom.”

In the aftermath of federal court ruling allowing to Michigan funeral home to discriminate against a transgender worker in the name of “religious freedom,” the U.S. agency representing the worker has appealed the decision to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a notice of appeal on Thursday before U.S. District Judge Sean Cox, an appointee of George W. Bush who ruled in August the Religious Freedom Restoration Act allows R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes to discriminate against Amiee Stephens. The funeral home terminated her after she announced her plans to transition.

EEOC had argued the prohibition on gender discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits the funeral home from discriminating against Stephens for being transgender. But in a decision based on the U.S. Supreme Court 2014 decision in the Hobby Lobby case, Cox determined requiring the funeral home to employ Stephens “would impose a substantial burden on its ability to conduct business in accordance with its sincerely-held religious beliefs.”

The majority owner of the funeral home, Thomas Rost, asserted his Christian faith prohibits him from paying for and permitting employees to dress as members of the opposite sex, as he put it. Representing Rost before the federal court was the anti-LGBT Alliance Defending Freedom.

h/t Equality Case Files

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

3 Comments
  • His “christian faith” Unitil our supreme court ruled in June 1967, even 100 years after the end of the civil war in 1867,, still 16 out of once 41 of 48 states banned interracial marriage

    • And Maurice Bessinger tried using the same religious freedom argument we’re hearing today when he refused to allow black people into his restaurants. That case went all the way to the US Supreme Court who ruled against him (unanimously) and called his argument frivolous.

  • It’s shameful that you can’t even get respect at your funeral in the name of religious freedom but that is what has allowed protests at gay funerals by these people.

    I understand the indignation but even if you force the funeral home to comply, I would imagination subpar maintenance and care of the plot in resentment and retaliation. You can’t trust such people to fulfill their duties in caring for your remains. Better off looking for someone that is welcoming and give them your business.

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