A Christian-owned funeral home has been hit with a lawsuit after they refused to allow a male employee to dress as a woman while interacting with grieving families and their guests.
In 2007 Harris Funeral Home hired Anothy Stevens who, at the time of his employment, agreed to comply with all company policies, including the sex-specific dress code.
The funeral home’s manager, Shannon Kish said, “All of the policies and procedures at Harris Funeral Home are all focused towards serving the grieving family and taking their needs first.”
Seven years later, Stevens decided he no longer intended on wearing a male uniform at work and informed his employer that he would now be dressing as a woman.
“I took some time to think about it,” Tom Rost, owner of Harris Funeral Home said. “What Stevens proposed was not in the best interest of the families we serve.”
When the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission heard about the incident, they filed a lawsuit against the funeral home, accusing it of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The federal law, which prohibits discrimination in employment states: “It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin…”
According to the EEOC, however, the term “sex” now includes gender identity, not merely an individual’s biological gender.
Jim Campbell, Senior Counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom said, “The word ‘sex’ treats whether someone is male or female based on biological fact. Gender identity is fluid, difficult to define, and based on subjective perceptions… The EEOC wants to rewrite federal law in a way that Congress has repeatedly considered and rejected.”
“The only reason that Stevens does not work at Harris Funeral Home is the dress code issue,” owner Rost said. “We at Harris Funeral Home don’t feel that the government has the right to come in and tell us how to serve families.”