CHICAGO (CBS) — The U.S. Supreme Court is set to consider transgender rights for the first time – and a Chicago attorney will be arguing the case.
That attorney sat down only with CBS 2’s Tara Molina Thursday night.READ MORE: City Celebrating Chicago Sky WNBA Championship Win In Millennium Park Tuesday
The case R. G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission and Aimee Stephens, along with two others, could affect thousands of workplaces. The case asks whether transgender discrimination amounts to sex discrimination.
“It honestly feels like I’m constantly having to defend who I am as a person,” said Tatyana Moaton.
Moaton, who works in human resources, fights for workers’ rights every day. But as a transgender woman living in Chicago, there is another battle close to her heart – the right to be transgender at work.
John Knight, senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and HIV Project, is taking the case to the nation’s highest court.
“Ultimately, it’s about whether transgender people are protected under the existing law – and we think they clearly are,” Knight said.
The case involves Aimee Stephens. She worked at a funeral home in Michigan, came out as transgender, started presenting as a woman, and was fired for it.
It happened in 2013.
A long legal battle that Stephens didn’t expect followed – all the way to the high court. U.S. Supreme Court justices are now set to answer this question: Does federal law bar employers from discriminating against gay and transgender people?READ MORE: Woodstock Woman's Car Gets Damaged, Then Insurance Company Refuses To Pay Because She Called Police 2 Hours Too Late
In the first, the estate of the late Donald Zarda is suing claiming that he was fired from his job as a skydiving instructor on Long Island, New York because he is gay. In the second, Gerald Bostock is suing after he was fired from his job as a child welfare services coordinator in Clayton County, Georgia – he believes his firing was connected to his sexual orientation and his participation in a gay softball league.
The Zarda and Bostock cases have been consolidated.
Stephens won her case in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals setting a precedent last year.
“We’re not asking for a change in the law. We’re not asking for an expansion of the law,” Knight said. “We’re simply asking for the law to be applied as it’s written.”
But the Department of Justice filed a brief in the Supreme Court this month saying transgender discrimination is not prohibited by Title VII.
The group representing the funeral home is arguing that it should prevail because Congress didn’t include transgender people when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed.
“This isn’t just about Aimee Stephens,” Moaton said. “This is about the Aimee Stephens of this country, and those people who are being discriminated against and terminated from their jobs just on the basis of them being their true and authentic selves.”MORE NEWS: Woman Struck By Stray Bullet, Critically Wounded While Inside Her Home In Zion
The Supreme Court is set to hear the cases on Oct. 8.