R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes of Garden City, Michigan and Lakeland Eye Clinic of Lakeland, Florida have been found to have much in common by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
In 2013 Aimee Stephens, an embalmer and Funeral Director told her boss at Harris that she was transitioning from male to female. Two weeks after that the owner of the funeral home chain fired here…telling her that what she proposed to do was “unacceptable.”
In 2011 Brandi Branson was fired from her job as director of hearing services at Lakeland Eye Clinic after informing her employer that she was transitioning to female and beginning to wear makeup and women’s tailored clothing.
Branson observed that co-workers snickered, rolled their eyes and withdrew from social interactions with her.
EEOC says the companies violated federal law by discriminating based on gender stereotypes. and has filed suit against them.
Federal law “prohibits employers from firing employees because they do not behave according to the employer’s stereotypes of how men and women should act.
–Laurie Young, EEOC attorney.
The suit against Harris was filed in US District Court in Detroit. The suit against Lakeland Eye Clinic was filed in Federal Court in Tampa.
The suits mark the first times that EEOC has sued claiming that transgender people were discriminated against. The suits are based on the protections afforded by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Transgender people continue to face some of the highest levels of discrimination in the workplace.
The lawsuits filed today by the EEOC are historic and a giant step toward ensuring American workers are judged based on the work they do, and not their gender identity
—Sarah Warbelow, Human Rights Campaign Legal Director.
Federal attorneys are seeking backpay plus interest along with additional financial compensation for pain, suffering, inconvenience, and humiliation.
An employee should not be denied employment opportunities because he or she does not conform to the preferred or expected gender norms or roles of the employer or co-workers
—Malcolm S. Medley, EEOC Miami