The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing Detroit-based R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. The EEOC says it discriminated based on sex in violation of federal law by firing a Garden City, Mich., funeral director/embalmer because he is transgender, because he was transitioning from male to female, and/or because he did not conform to the employer’s gender-based expectations, preferences, or stereotypes. Harris is a funeral home operator with locations in Detroit, Livonia and Garden City. Amiee Stephens had been employed by Harris as a Funeral Director/Embalmer since October 2007 and had always adequately performed the duties of that position. In 2013, Stephens gave Harris a letter explaining he was undergoing a gender transition from male to female, and would soon start to present (e.g., dress) in appropriate business attire at work, consistent with his gender identity as a woman. Two weeks later, Harris’s owner fired Stephens, telling him that what he was “proposing to do” was unacceptable.
We hope Stephens wins, because this is sex discrimination based on sex stereotypes about what a man can look like.