Thursday, March 08, 2018

Another Court Victory!

We have been taking many hits at the hands of Attorney General Session and Education Secretary DeVos but many of the courts are not having any of it.
U.S. appeals court says civil rights law covers transgender workers
By Daniel Wiessner & Jonathan Stempel
March 7, 2018

(Reuters) - A federal law banning sex bias in the workplace prohibits discrimination against transgender workers, a U.S. appeals court said on Wednesday, ruling in favor of a funeral director who was fired after telling her boss she planned to transition to female from male.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said RG & GR Harris Funeral Homes Inc in Detroit unlawfully discriminated against Aimee Stephens, formerly known as Anthony Stephens, based on her sex.

The court also said the funeral home failed to establish that the federal workplace law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, substantially burdened the ability of funeral home owner Thomas Rost, a devout Christian, to exercise his religious rights in his treatment of Stephens.

Several federal appeals courts have said that discriminating against transgender workers is a form of unlawful sex bias. But the 6th Circuit was the first to consider a religious defense in such a case.
Hopefully, this trend continues and the Appeals ruling has an impact on the Supreme Court’s ruling on Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case.

In an article in The Hill the court was asked that,
Attorneys urged the court to rule that the funeral home qualifies for the “ministerial exception” to Title VII, but it said Stephens was not a ministerial employee and the funeral home is not a religious institution.

The court’s ruling reverses a lower court's summary judgment in favor of Rost.

“Discrimination on the basis of transgender and transitioning status is necessarily discrimination on the basis of sex, and thus the [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] 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,” judge Karen Nelson Moore wrote in the appeals court’s opinion.
Since the beginning of our country the courts have ruled against attempt to hide bigotry behind religious freedom. In the past the courts have looked favorably on if a law was a "neutral law of general applicability" but that is slowly changing toward a right-wing belief that laws could be ignored if it went against a person religious belief.

Let us hope that the courts follow in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals thinking.

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