Elizabeth Warren: ‘If Trump Administration Gets Its Way…Employers Could Legally Fire Trans Americans’

By Staff | August 21, 2019 | 12:04pm EDT
(Getty Images/Sean Rayford)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D.-N.J.) sent out a Tweet on Tuesday that linked to a story in the Washington Blade and said that the Trump administration is seeking to allow employers to discriminate against transgender individuals.

“If the Trump administration gets it way on this, employers could legally fire trans Americans just for being themselves,” Warren said in her Tweet. “This is discrimination, plain and simple, and we’re going to fight it with everything we’ve got.”

The Washington Blade story, published on August 16, was headlined: “Trump admin to Supreme Court: It’s OK to fire workers for being trans.”

“Defying massive case law, the Trump administration urged the Supreme Court late Friday to issue a ruling that federal civil rights law doesn’t cover discrimination based on gender identity, therefore firing workers for being transgender is perfectly legal,” said the Blade.

“In a 54-page brief signed by U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, the U.S. Justice Department argues Congress didn’t intend to include transgender people when it passed Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars discrimination on the basis of sex in employment,” said the Blade’s story.

The case in question is Harris Funeral Homes vs. the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

According to the brief filed by the solicitor general, the EEOC filed suit against the funeral home because it had fired an individual who it had employed for years. This employee, like other employees of the funeral parlor, was required to abide by a dress code at work.

“The dress code requires male employees to wear suits and ties and female employees to wear skirts and business jackets,” said the brief.

The employee on whose behalf the EEOC brought the case had started working for the funeral home in 2007 as a man, who followed the male dress code. In 2013, according to the brief, he wrote a letter to the funeral home saying he “intended to have sex reassignment surgery.” Prior to that, he informed the funeral home, according to the brief, that he would need “to live and work full-time as a woman for one year.”

According to the brief, the employee intended to take a vacation and then intended “return to work as [his] true self.” The brief said he intended to comply with the funeral homes’ “dress code for female employees, requiring a skirt and a jacket.”

The principal owner of the funeral home fired him. In the litigation, the owner stated his belief that this employee’s dressing in “a female uniform in the role of funeral director would have been distracting to clients mourning the loss of a loved one, would have disrupted their grieving process, and would have harmed clients and [his] business and business relationships.”

The brief filed by the solicitor general sided aginst the EEOC.

“As it stands, Title VII prohibits treating an individual less favorably than similarly situated individuals of the opposite sex,” said the solicitor general’s brief. “It simply does not speak to discrimination because of an individual’s gender identity or a disconnect between an individual’s gender identity and the individual’s sex. That does not mean that transgender individuals are somehow ‘exclude[d]’ from Title VII’s protections. It means that transgender employees, like all other employees, may not be treated less favorably on any of the grounds Title VII covers. But transgender status is not among them, and restyling a claim of gender-identity discrimination as one based on consideration of sex or sex stereotyping does not change that result.”



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