Resource: R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

By: Oyez

June 15, 2020

Aimee Stephens worked as a funeral director at R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc., which is a closely held for-profit corporation that operates several funeral homes in Michigan. For most of her employment at the Funeral Home, Stephens lived and presented as a man. Shortly after she informed the Funeral Home’s owner and operator that she intended to transition from male to female, she was terminated.

Stephens filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging that she had been terminated based on unlawful sex discrimination. After conducting an investigation, the EEOC brought a lawsuit against the Funeral Home charging that it had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by terminating Stephen’s employment on the basis of her transgender or transitioning status and her refusal to conform to sex-based stereotypes.

The district court granted summary judgment to the Funeral Home, and a panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed, holding that the Funeral Home’s termination of Stephens based on her transgender status constituted sex discrimination in violation of Title VII.