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Case Name EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. EE-MI-0202
Docket / Court 2:14-cv-13710 ( E.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
This was one of the LGBT discrimination cases before the Supreme Court in 2020 when it held that "[a]n employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964]."

District Court
This case addresses the scope of ... read more >
This was one of the LGBT discrimination cases before the Supreme Court in 2020 when it held that "[a]n employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964]."

District Court
This case addresses the scope of the ban on sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -- which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex -- asking if the statute bars employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation. On September 25, 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed this case on behalf of a transgender woman who was fired from her job at the defendant's funeral home after notifying her employers that she was "undergoing a gender transition from male to female and intended to dress in appropriate business attire at work as a woman." The EEOC argued that by firing her, the employers had discriminated against her because of her sex, which violated Title VII. The complaint requested an injunction against discriminatory employment practices and an order requiring the employer to implement policies, practices, and programs which provided equal employment opportunities, as well as backpay and other damages. The case was assigned to Judge Sean F. Cox.

The employer filed a motion to dismiss on November 19, 2014, arguing that transgender people were not a protected class under Title VII, and that the EEOC's positions clearly "demonstrate[d] their incoherence and their failure to state a claim."

On April 21, 2015, Judge Cox denied the employer's motion to dismiss, finding that while transgender status was "currently not a protected class under Title VII," the EEOC had sufficiently plead a sex-stereotyping gender-discrimination claim. 100 F. Supp. 3d 594.

The EEOC filed an amended complaint on June 1, 2015 and the case was referred to Magistrate Judge David R. Grand.

On April 7, 2016, both parties filed motions for summary judgment, and on April 19, the ACLU filed an amicus brief.

After a hearing on the cross-motions for summary judgment, the court denied the EEOC's motion and granted summary judgment in favor of the employer as to the wrongful termination claim on August 18, 2016, concluding that the employer was entitled to an exemption from Title VII under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 201 F. Supp. 3d 387.

Court of Appeals
The EEOC appealed to the Sixth Circuit, and the transgender woman the EEOC was representing, moved to intervene, which was granted on March 27, 2017. Many parties filed amicus briefs in support of the EEOC, some of whom included: Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Equality Ohio, Public Rights/Private Conscience Project, Human Rights Campaign, Service Employees International Union, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and the Anti-Defamation League.

A Sixth Circuit panel of three judges reversed the lower court judgment and remanded the case back to the district court on March 7, 2018. 884 F.3d 560.

U.S. Supreme Court
The employer filed a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court on June 24, 2018 and a motion to stay the district court proceedings pending resolution of the writ on July 26, 2018. Judge Cox granted the motion to stay on August 15, 2018.

Oral argument occurred on October 8, 2019, with the ACLU and the Stanford Law School Supreme Court Clinic arguing for the plaintiffs. The Supreme Court rendered its decision on June 15, 2020. Writing for a 6-3 majority, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that Title VII prohibits employers from engaging in discrimination "because of" sex. Justice Gorsuch stated that the statutory language "because of" implies a but-for causation analysis, meaning "so long as the plaintiff's sex was one but-for cause of that decision [to fire], that is enough to trigger the law." The opinion stated that "if an employer would not have discharged an employee but for that individual's sex, the statute's causation standard is met and liability may attach." LGBT discrimination against employees met this test, because "an employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have question in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids." 590 U.S. ___. The judgment of the Sixth Circuit was affirmed. The case remains ongoing.

Caitlin Kierum - 06/15/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Discrimination-area
Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
Sexual orientatation
EEOC-centric
Private Party intervened in EEOC suit
General
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e
Defendant(s) R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc.
Plaintiff Description The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of a transgender woman who was fired from her job
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief Litigation
None yet
Filed 09/25/2014
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing EE-NY-0289 : Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc. (E.D.N.Y.)
EE-GA-0114 : Bostock v. Clayton County (N.D. Ga.)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
www.oyez.org
Date: Jun. 15, 2020
By: Oyez
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
SCOTUSblog
Date: 05/11/2018
By: SCOTUSblog
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC & Aimee Stephens
ACLU
Date: 1/26/2017
By: American Civil Liberties Union
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:14-cv-13710 (E.D. Mich.)
EE-MI-0202-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/11/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint and Jury Demand [ECF# 1]
EE-MI-0202-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/25/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion & Order Denying Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 12] (100 F.Supp.3d 594) (E.D. Mich.)
EE-MI-0202-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/21/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint and Jury Demand [ECF# 21]
EE-MI-0202-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/01/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief in Opposition for Respondent Aimee Stephens
EE-MI-0202-0023.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/07/2016
Source: Supreme Court website
Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF# 51]
EE-MI-0202-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/07/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendant R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, INC.'S Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF# 53 & 53-1]
EE-MI-0202-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/07/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Unopposed Motion by the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan for Leave to File Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF# 57 & 57-1]
EE-MI-0202-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/15/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion & Order [ECF# 76] (201 F.Supp.3d 837) (E.D. Mich.)
EE-MI-0202-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/18/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion to Intervene as Plaintiff-Appellant
EE-MI-0202-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/26/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opening Brief of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as Appellant
EE-MI-0202-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/10/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order (2017 WL 10350992)
EE-MI-0202-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/27/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief of Seventy-Six Members of the Clergy as Amici Curiae Supporting Appellant and Intervenor and Reversal
EE-MI-0202-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/26/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amicus Curiae Brief of Equality Ohio in Support of Intervenor Urging Reversal
EE-MI-0202-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/26/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief of Amicus Curiae Private Rights / Public Conscience Project in Support of Appellants
EE-MI-0202-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/26/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief for Amici Curiae Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., Human Rights Campaign, Inc. and in Support of Plaintiff/Appellant EEOC and Intervenor Aimee Stephens
EE-MI-0202-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/27/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief for Amicus Curiae Unitarian Universalist Association in Support of Plaintiff/Appellant EEOC and Intervenor Aimee Stephens, Supporting Reversal
EE-MI-0202-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/28/2017
Source: Bloomberg Law
Responsive Brief of Appellee R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc.
EE-MI-0202-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/17/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion (884 F.3d 560)
EE-MI-0202-0017.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/07/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Petition for Writ of Certiorari
EE-MI-0202-0018.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/01/2018
Source: Supreme Court website
Brief for the Federal Respondent in Opposition
EE-MI-0202-0019.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/01/2018
Source: Supreme Court website
Brief for Respondent Aimee Stephens
EE-MI-0202-0020.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/26/2019
Source: Supreme Court website
Brief for the Petitioner
EE-MI-0202-0021.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/01/2019
Source: Supreme Court website
Brief for the Federal Respondent Supporting Reversal
EE-MI-0202-0022.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/01/2019
Source: Supreme Court website
Opinion of the Court (140 S.Ct. 1731)
EE-MI-0202-0024.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/15/2020
Source: Supreme Court website
show all people docs
Judges Cox, Sean Francis (E.D. Mich.) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0002 | EE-MI-0202-0007 | EE-MI-0202-9000
Donald, Bernice Bouie (W.D. Tenn., Sixth Circuit) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0017
Gibbons, Julia Smith (W.D. Tenn., Sixth Circuit) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0010
Gilman, Ronald Lee (Sixth Circuit) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0010
Gorsuch, Neil M. (Tenth Circuit, SCOTUS) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0024
Grand, David R. (E.D. Mich.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-9000
Hood, Joseph Martin (E.D. Ky.) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0010
Moore, Karen Nelson (Sixth Circuit) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0017
White, Helene N. (Sixth Circuit) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0017
Plaintiff's Lawyers Arkles, Gabriel (New York) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0020 | EE-MI-0202-0023
Bird, Kenneth L (Indiana) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0001 | EE-MI-0202-0003
Bond, Jonathan C. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0022
Calvo-Friedman, Jennesa (New York) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0020
Cole, David (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0020 | EE-MI-0202-0023
Davis, Lorraine C. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0009
Dreiband, Eric S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0022
Francisco, Noel (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0019 | EE-MI-0202-0022
Gill, Elizabeth O. (California) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0020
Goldstein, Jennifer S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0009
Gore, John M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0019
Hunt, Joseph H. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0019 | EE-MI-0202-0022
Lee, James L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0001 | EE-MI-0202-0003 | EE-MI-0202-0009
Linehan, Katie N. (Michigan) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0004
Lopez, P. David (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0001 | EE-MI-0202-0003
Marcus, Stephanie (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0019 | EE-MI-0202-0022
Melling, Louise (New York) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0020 | EE-MI-0202-0023
Mooppan, Hashim M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0022
Occhialino, Anne Noel (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0009 | EE-MI-0202-0010 | EE-MI-0202-0017
Price, Dale (Michigan) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0003 | EE-MI-0202-0004 | EE-MI-0202-9000
Reams, Gwendolyn Young (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0001 | EE-MI-0202-0003
Scarborough, Charles W. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0019 | EE-MI-0202-0022
Shultz, Miles (Michigan) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0001 | EE-MI-0202-0003 | EE-MI-0202-0004 | EE-MI-0202-9000
Strangio, Chase (New York) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0020
Treene, Eric W. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0019 | EE-MI-0202-0022
Wall, Jeffrey B. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0022
Young, Laurie A (Indiana) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0001 | EE-MI-0202-0003
Defendant's Lawyers Abramson, Bradley S (Arizona) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0005
Anderson, Katherine L. (Arizona) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0021
Bursch, John J. (Michigan) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0018 | EE-MI-0202-0021 | EE-MI-0202-9000
Campbell, James A. (Arizona) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0005 | EE-MI-0202-0018 | EE-MI-0202-9000
Cortman, David A (Arizona) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0018 | EE-MI-0202-0021
Dalton, J. Caleb (Arizona) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-9000
Hallock, Jeana (Arizona) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0018 | EE-MI-0202-0021
Infranco, Joseph Paul (Arizona) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0005 | EE-MI-0202-9000
Kirkpatrick, Joel J (Michigan) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0005 | EE-MI-0202-0021 | EE-MI-0202-9000
Lorence, Jordan W. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0010 | EE-MI-0202-0017
McCaleb, Gary S. (Arizona) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0010 | EE-MI-0202-0016 | EE-MI-0202-0017 | EE-MI-0202-0018
Waggoner, Kristen K. (Arizona) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0018 | EE-MI-0202-0021
Wardlow, Douglas G (Minnesota) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0005 | EE-MI-0202-0010 | EE-MI-0202-0016 | EE-MI-0202-0017 | EE-MI-0202-9000
Other Lawyers Advani, Sameer (New York) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0013 | EE-MI-0202-0017
Barkey, David L (New York) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0011
Eaton, Mary Jane (New York) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0013 | EE-MI-0202-0017
Esseks, James Dixon (New York) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0008 | EE-MI-0202-0020 | EE-MI-0202-0023
Franke, Katherine (New York) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0013 | EE-MI-0202-0017
Freeman, Steven M. (New York) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0011
Girard, Bradley (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0011
Green, Carmen Nicole (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0011
Hauss, Brian M. (New York) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0006 | EE-MI-0202-0008
Isaacson, Eric Alan (California) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0015 | EE-MI-0202-0017
Kalir, Doron M (Ohio) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0012 | EE-MI-0202-0017
Kaplan, Jay (Michigan) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0006 | EE-MI-0202-0008 | EE-MI-0202-0017 | EE-MI-0202-0020 | EE-MI-0202-0023 | EE-MI-0202-9000
Katskee, Richard B. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0011 | EE-MI-0202-0017
Knight, John A. (Illinois) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0006 | EE-MI-0202-0008 | EE-MI-0202-0017 | EE-MI-0202-0020 | EE-MI-0202-0023 | EE-MI-0202-9000
Korobkin, Daniel S. (Michigan) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0006 | EE-MI-0202-0008 | EE-MI-0202-0017 | EE-MI-0202-0020 | EE-MI-0202-0023
Kowalski, Kenneth J (Ohio) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0012
Mar, Ria Tabacco (New York) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0006 | EE-MI-0202-0020
Marcus, Nancy C (California) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0014 | EE-MI-0202-0017
Nevins, Gregory R. (Georgia) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0014 | EE-MI-0202-0017
Olson, William J. (Virginia) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0017
Percival, Kelly M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0011
Pizer, Jennifer Carol (California) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0014 | EE-MI-0202-0017
Platt, Elizabeth Reiner (New York) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0013 | EE-MI-0202-0017
Powell, Wesley Railey (New York) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0013 | EE-MI-0202-0017
Steinberg, Michael J. (Michigan) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0006 | EE-MI-0202-0008 | EE-MI-0202-0023
Zeidman, Miriam L (New York) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0202-0011

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