March 7 (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday said a federal law banning sex bias in the workplace prohibits discrimination against transgender workers, ruling in favor of a funeral director who claimed she was fired after telling her boss she planned to transition to female from male.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the RG & GR Harris Funeral Homes Inc in Detroit unlawfully discriminated against Aimee Stephens, formerly known as Anthony Stephens, based on her sex.
It 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.
“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 appeals court. “The unrefuted facts show that the funeral home fired Stephens because she refused to abide by her employer’s stereotypical conception of her sex.” (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)