Center for Inquiry Condemns Federal Request to Reverse Anti-Discrimination Decision


For Immediate Release: October 26, 2018
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
press@centerforinquiry.org - (207) 358-9785

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) condemned a request from the Department of Justice for the Supreme Court to roll back a court decision extending anti-discrimination protections to transgender people. In a brief filed on behalf of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), the Department of Justice perversely argues for the reversal of a lower court decision that came from a case brought by the EEOC itself.

The case, EEOC v Harris Funeral Homes, centers on an employee who was fired after almost six years working as a funeral director when she told her employer that she was a transgender woman, and would be wearing the uniform required for female employees. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that, under a correct reading of Title VII, her termination was unlawful in that it demonstrated sex discrimination based on transgender status.

“It’s wrong to fire an employee because they happen to be a member of the LGBTQ community,” said Jason Lemieux, CFI’s Director of Government Affairs. “CFI has long worked to strengthen federal protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Here, the judge was spot on when she said it is impossible to fire someone for being transgender without firing them for a reason related to their gender. That’s exactly what Title VII exists to prevent.”

The Department of Justice also requested that the Supreme Court reverse lower court rulings which have found that terminating an employee based on their sexual orientation is grounded in a failure of the employee to meet gender stereotypes of the employer, and is thus also sexual discrimination under Title VII.

“This administration cannot wait to use the new, religious right majority on the Supreme Court created by Justice Kavanaugh’s appointment to roll back any advances made by the LGBTQ community,” said Nick Little, CFI’s Vice President and General Counsel. “Every move they make is determined by what will play best to the Evangelical base, which desperately wants to restrict and reduce the rights and welfare of LGBTQ Americans. This community deserves equal protection from discrimination, not to be sacrificed to the prejudiced wishes of the religious right.”

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at centerforinquiry.org.