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Judge: Fired Trans Woman Doesn't Have to Reveal What's Between Her Legs

Judge: Fired Trans Woman Doesn't Have to Reveal What's Between Her Legs

Aimee Stephens
Aimee Stephens

For the second time, lawyers defending a Michigan funeral home in a civil lawsuit have been rebuffed in their attempt to invade a transgender woman's privacy.

A federal judge in Michigan has refused to grant a funeral home's second request to seek "intimate and private" information about a fired transgender worker's anatomy and background, Law360 reports.

According to Reuters, U.S. Magistrate Judge David Grand in the Eastern District of Michigan rejected the original claim by R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes in September, one year after the lawsuit was filed. The funeral home's lawyers claimed they needed information about former funeral director Aimee Stephens's transition from male to female, including whether she still has a penis, her family medical history, and information about her previous sexual relationships.

Then Wednesday, their second bid was rejected, with the federal judge ruling the information still isn't relevant to Stephens's discrimination lawsuit, brought on her behalf by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit in 2014, claims R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, which has operations in Detroit and two other cities, fired Stephens after she informed her employers that she intended to begin presenting at work as a woman, consistent with her gender identity.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, federal law "prohibits employers from firing employees because they do not behave according to the employer's stereotypes of how men and women should act," said EEOC attorney Laurie Young in a statement issued in September 2014.

While the EEOC has previously applied Title VII to protect transgender people against workplace discrimination in cases brought before it, the lawsuit regarding Stephens and another one filed the same day in Florida marked the first time the federal agency proactively brought charges against workplaces, alleging those employers violated federal law.

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