Gov. Phil Bryant has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal that could overturn an anti-discrimination decision making it illegal for employers to fire workers based on gender identity.
Bryant is one of three Republican governors and 13 Republican attorneys general who have signed a brief that asks the Supreme Court to hear an appeal of a ruling made by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Jackson Free Press reports.
The case involved a Michigan funeral home director/embalmer who was fired after she told her employer she was transitioning from a man and would start dressing for work as a woman, the decision shows. Aimee Stephens, previously known as Anthony Stephens, had worked at R.G. & G.R. Funeral Home from 2007 and was fired in 2013.
She filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, and also complained that the funeral home gave a clothing allowance to male employees, but not to females. The EEOC and Stephens sued the funeral home in 2014 for discrimination and lost.
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The funeral home owner told the lower court that, as a Christian, he believes that ”the Bible teaches that a person’s sex is an immutable God-given gift,” and that he would be “violating God’s commands” if he allowed a funeral home director to represent the funeral home while denying their sex, the Court of Appeals wrote.
The Court of Appeals overturned the ruling in March, finding that “discrimination against employees, either because of their failure to conform to sex stereotypes or their transgender and transitioning status, is illegal under Title VII.”
Ability to work
Mississippi has more than 15,000 transgender people who deserve the same workplace protections as others, said Jennifer Riley Collins, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Mississippi.
“The determination that employers cannot discriminate based on sex was and is rooted in the fact that a person’s ability to perform a job has nothing to do with anatomy,” Collins said in a news release.
“To advocate that a person who is transitioning or has transitioned does not deserve those same protections is shortsighted and a failure to acknowledge reality.”
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and Maine Gov. Paul LePage joined Bryant in signing the amicus brief, which is a “friend-of-the-court brief.” It is a legal document filed by people who are not attorneys but have an interest in the matter.
The brief argues that the 6th Circuit Court ruling has illegally expanded the definition of sex in Title VII of the Civil rights Act of 1964 to include gender identity and transgender status.
The federal law says employers can’t discriminate against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion. It typically applies to employers with 15 or more workers.
The brief comes as the Senate is holding confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh as the replacement for former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kavanaugh is President Trump’s nominee for the seat.
Both LGBTQ advocates and women’s rights advocates have said Kavanaugh will threaten their legal protections.
“There is a significant reason to believe just what we know from his published decisions that he is on the wrong side of all of these issues, and would likely be a vote against us on all of these issues as these cases rise,” Chad Griffin told Variety magazine in a report published Sept. 5.
Bryant has supported legislation in recent years based on his belief that marriage is between one man and one woman; people should not have sex outside of marriage; and that a person’s gender is set at birth.