Judge Sean Cox ruled on Thursday that a Michigan funeral home may abide by sincerely held religious beliefs in maintaining a dress code that requires its employees to dress according to their biological sex and not their “gender identity.”
Thomas Rost, president and owner of R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, faced a lawsuit from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) following the 2013 firing of Anthony Stephens, now Aimee Stephens, an embalmer and funeral director for the company. Stephens had announced a transition from male to female in a letter in which he said he would start to dress in women’s business attire at work.
Rost fired Stephens in a conversation following Stephens’ announcement informing him that “coming to work dressed as a woman was not going to be acceptable.”
The EEOC sued on behalf of Stephens in September 2014. The case made history two years ago as the first case in which the EEOC claimed discrimination against a transgender employee under the Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.