Sixth Circuit Court Rules in Favor of Transgender Worker

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On March 7, 2018, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that employers in its circuit (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee) may not discriminate against employees because of failure to conform to sex stereotypes or transgender or transitioning status. The court found that discrimination against transgender people violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 rules against sex stereotyping, as well as wider sex discrimination laws.

In EEOC v. R.G. &. G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, the circuit court reversed a federal district court judge’s ruling that a funeral home was justified in firing a transgender employee after she informed her employer she was transitioning from male to female. The district court had ruled in the funeral home’s favor, under its defense that that firing the employee was permissible under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Although the application of the court’s opinion is regional, it is part of a larger shift in federal court rulings and supports the view of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Read more about the case and its implications in On Labor.