Court rules religion does not excuse on-the-job discrimination

Arizona readers may be interested in learning about two federal court cases involving LGBTQ employees. The cases could impact gay, lesbian and transgender rights across the United States.

In the first case, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed down an historic ruling regarding workplace discrimination. The case before the court involved a transgender woman who worked at a funeral home in the Detroit area. She was fired after telling her boss that she was transgender and would soon be transitioning from male to female. The reason for her termination was her employer's religious beliefs. In its ruling, which was handed down on March 7, the appeals court found that discriminating against transgender employees was a violation of Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964. It also ruled that complying with Title VII did not unfairly compromise the employer's religious beliefs. The decision overruled a lower court's decision in favor of the employer. It is the first time a court has found there is no religious exemption to Title VII.

In the second case, Lambda Legal filed an appeal on behalf of a gay man who was denied a job due to his sexual orientation. According to the appeal, which was filed on March 7, the man was offered a job as a health care salesman at Midwest Geriatric Management in Missouri. However, the owners of MGM rescinded the offer when they discovered the man was gay, citing their religious beliefs. The court has not yet issued a ruling.

Employees who suffer workplace discrimination due to their sexual orientation may be able to file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If the complaint is successful, a person could receive a financial settlement. Employees could learn more about their legal rights by speaking to an employment law attorney.

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