Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman, was fired because she did not conform to her boss’s religious beliefs
about gender identity.
Religion is not an excuse to discriminate.
We’re standing up for Aimee.
After working for nearly six with her company, Aimee Stephens informed her employer and coworkers that she is transgender and would begin to live publicly as a woman. Explaining that “what I must tell you is very difficult for me and is taking all the courage I can muster,” she asked for their “patience, understanding, and support” as she transitioned to living openly as her true self.
The company’s owner fired her two weeks later. His reason: His religious belief that being transgender is wrong.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—the federal agency that enforces workplace-discrimination laws—responded with a lawsuit. Firing someone because she is transgender violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act—one of our nation’s most important civil-rights laws.
But in an unprecedented decision, the trial court ruled that under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the for-profit company can use religion as an excuse to discriminate against Aimee and violate Title VII. Under this reasoning, employers could fire employees for anything that might contradict the employer’s beliefs, which could include everything from being a single mother to an adherent of another faith.
RFRA was designed to protect religious freedom, especially the freedom of religious minorities. It was never meant to let individuals—let alone for-profit businesses—harm and discriminate against others. And the federal appeals court agrees. On March 7, 2018, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's decision, stating that the funeral home had no right to use religion as an excuse to fire Aimee.
Learn More About The Case:
Michigan Case Brings Victory For Religious Freedom And Transgender Rights - AU Lawyer Kelly Percival
A Religious Right To Discriminate?: Court Adopts Troubling Interpretation Of Religious Freedom Law - AU Lawyer Bradley Girard