The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on a person’s transgender or transitioning status.
The case at issue involved an individual (Anthony Stephens) who was born male and who worked at a funeral home in Michigan. Stephens advised the owner of the funeral home that he would be undergoing sex reassignment surgery which required that he live and work for one year, fulltime, as a woman. Stephens advised that upon return from a vacation she would be returning as Aimee Stephens. Two weeks later, before Stephens’ vacation, the owner fired Stephens, saying that “This is not going to work out.”
Stephens filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC found reasonable cause to believe that the funeral home terminated Stephens due to her sex and gender identity in violation of Title VII. The EEOC filed suit and ultimately the case came before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. That Court ruled that the EEOC had established a claim of sex discrimination under Title VII based on evidence of gender stereotyping. In a unanimous decision by three judges the Court also ruled that “…discrimination on the basis of transgender and transitioning status violates Title VII.”
The U.S. Supreme Court has not yet ruled on this issue, but in the meantime it is the law in the state of Ohio.