Labor & Employment

EEOC doesn't sign US brief telling Supreme Court that transgender discrimination is legal

  • Print.

transgender symbol

Image from Shutterstock.

The general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission didn’t sign a Supreme Court brief filed on its behalf by the U.S. Justice Department on Friday in the case of a transgender funeral home employee.

The EEOC had sued on behalf of funeral director and embalmer Aimee Stephens, who says she was fired because of her transition in violation of the federal ban on sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

But the Justice Department brief argued the law does not ban discrimination based on transgender status, report the National Law Journal, Fox News and Law360. Typically, the general counsel for an agency signs Supreme Court briefs, and the lack of a signature is an indication the EEOC didn’t support the Justice Department’s position, the National Law Journal explains.

The Justice Department argued that discrimination against a female transgender person would violate Title VII only if she was treated differently than a transgender man. Discrimination because of transgender status does not violate the law, the department said.

“In the particular context of Title VII—legislation originally designed to eliminate employment discrimination against racial and other minorities—it was especially clear that the prohibition on discrimination because of ‘sex’ referred to unequal treatment of men and women in the workplace,” the Justice Department argued.

The case is R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC.

The Justice Department made the same argument at the cert petition stage.

The ABA has filed amicus briefs that argue discrimination based on transgender status and sexual orientation are both illegal under Title VII.

Typo in second paragraph corrected on Aug. 21.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.