Court rules religion no exception to observing Title VII

Protections for Tennessee employees who are transgender may be stronger following a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. On March 7, the court held that an employer's religion is not an exception to Title VII that allows that employer to discriminate against an employee.

The case dealt with a woman who worked for a funeral home in Detroit. When she informed her boss that she was transgender and would begin transitioning, her boss fired her. A lower court found that continuing to employ the woman would represent a substantial burden on the employer given his religious beliefs. However, the appeals court overturned this with a 3-0 decision.

An appeal was also filed by Lambda Legal on the same day in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. This was in regards to a case in which an employment offer was rescinded when the employer learned the man was gay. In that case, the owners also claimed that the man's sexual orientation was against their faith. The man in this case said he had left his job to accept the offer and was jobless when the employer took the offer back.

Workplace discrimination may take a number of different forms including denying a person a promotion, paying an employee less than another with the same job and experience, or terminating an employee. It may happen on the basis of religion, gender, national origin, age or for other reasons. While there might be workplace policies against discrimination, people might still find that nothing is done when they report it or that they even face retaliation. Therefore, a person who is facing workplace discrimination might want to talk to an attorney about how to document the discrimination and how to approach reporting it. If the workplace does not respond appropriately, a lawsuit might be the next step.

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