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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 3, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 31
Alliance Defending Freedom asks SCOTUS to review Trans protections
Section One
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Alliance Defending Freedom asks SCOTUS to review Trans protections

Interpretation of Title VII at stake

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an inappropriately named anti-LGBT hate group, has filed a petition with the US Supreme Court asking for review of an appellate court ruling that employers may not discriminate against Transgender employees, even on religious grounds.

If the high court takes the case, it would be able strike down - or at least severely limit - Obama-era regulations giving Trans workers protection under the Title VII prohibition against discrimination in employment on account of sex.

In March, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the religious convictions of an employer cannot justify discrimination against Transgender employees.

That decision came in the case of Aimee Stephens, who was fired from her job at a funeral home after coming out as Trans to her boss.

She then filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency charged with enforcing civil rights laws in the workplace. When the employer refused EEOC arbitration in the case, Stephens sued.

A US district court dismissed her lawsuit on the grounds that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act gave the funeral home an exemption from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which covers sex discrimination in the workplace.

The 6th Circuit overruled this decision, however, definitively ruling that sex discrimination includes discrimination against Trans people - and that there is no exemption to Title VII under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

'Discrimination against employees, either because of their failure to conform to sex stereotypes or their transgender and transitioning status, is illegal under Title VII,' Circuit Judge Karen Nelson Moore wrote for the 6th Circuit.

'The unrefuted facts show that the Funeral Home fired Stephens because she refused to abide by her employer's stereotypical conception of her sex.'

A representative from the ACLU, who argued the case for Stephens, said at the time that it was 'an exciting and important victory for transgender people and allied communities across the country.'

The HRC expressed concern that the Supreme Court might take the case, which would then be decided with Brett Kavanaugh replacing Justice Anthony Kennedy.

'[T]he prospect of a Justice Kavanaugh threatens to erode our nation's civil rights laws, block transgender troops from bravely serving this nation, and allow a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people in every aspect of American life,' HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement.

In June, the Supreme Court - with Kennedy writing the majority decision - ruled in favor of a Colorado bakery that refused on religious grounds to make a wedding cake for a Gay couple. While the ruling was very narrowly reasoned, it raised concerns that the high court would establish a broad religious exemption to federal laws protecting LGBT Americans.

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