BREAKING: Detroit-area funeral home wins in EEOC transgender case

Stove fire.flickrCC.StateFarmIns
This is HOT!!!

Remember EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes? This was the transgender discrimination case brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against a suburban Detroit funeral home chain for allegedly discriminating against an employee after she began presenting as a female. It's one of the few cases where the employer actually fought back, with the help of the Alliance Defense Fund, a traditional-values public interest firm.

Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox granted the funeral home's motion for summary judgment and denied a cross-motion by the EEOC. The decision is 57 pages long, and I'm out today, so I haven't had a chance to read it thoroughly.

It appears that the judge found the following:

(1) discrimination based solely on transgender status does not violate Title VII,

(2) the EEOC had not created an issue for a jury on its "sex stereotyping" claim,

(3) the funeral home was entitled to reasonable accommodations from the EEOC under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (the same law that saved Hobby Lobby's contraception coverage policy), and

(4) if the EEOC wanted to pursue a discrimination claim based on giving women a lesser clothing allowance than men, the EEOC would have to pursue its administrative remedies. (The last issue was dismissed without prejudice, which allows to EEOC to begin the administrative process with respect to the clothing allowance issue.)

Here's a copy of the decision, so we can read it together. I've previously written about the case here, here, herehere, here, and here (scroll down to item number 4). Here is the ADF press release on yesterday's win. I didn't see anything about the decision on the EEOC website.

P.S. I feel sure that the EEOC will appeal Judge Cox's decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Image Credit: From flickr, Creative Commons license, by State Farm Insurance.

Robin Shea has 30 years' experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act). 
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