R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes vs EEOC & Aimee Stephens

This content was last updated Nov. 7, 2023, 1:53 a.m. UTC

R.G & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes vs EEOC & Aimee Stephens, known colloquially as Harris vs EEOC, is a court case that was escalated to the United States Supreme Court. This case followed a discrimination lawsuit by trans woman Aimee Stephens against Harris Funeral Home who had fired her for being transgender.

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of Stephens and the EEOC, protecting gender identity and sexual orientation under Title VII. Unfortunately, Stephens wasn’t able to see any benefits as a result of this victory due to her passing some months prior to the ruling.

In Title VII, Congress adopted broad language making  it  illegal  for  an  employer  to  rely  on  an  employee’s  sex  when deciding to fire that employee. We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice:  An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law. 

From the Ruling, June 15, 2020


On July 31, 2013, Aimee Stephens informed her employer at Harris Funeral Homes of her transition from male to female. This subsequently resulted in her being fired from her job for wanting “to dress as a woman.”

Represented by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, this case was taken to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, based in Detroit, Michigan. This court ruled in favor of the funeral home, claiming that sex discrimination under Title VII was not adequately demonstrated.

Stephens and the EEOC appealed this to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, based in Cincinnati, Ohio. The appeals court ruled in favor of Stephens, detailing that the case in fact met the criteria for sexual discrimination.

Following this, Harris Funeral Homes - represented then by the Alliance Defending Freedom - petitioned the US Supreme Court in order to try and overturn the case.

Decision and Impact

On June 15, 2020, in a 6-3 majority, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in a separate case, Bostock vs. Clayton County. This designation made it illegal to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people in employment, officially protecting gender identity and sexual orientation under Title VII.

This decision unfortunately did not grant Aimee Stephens any legal benefits due to her passing away in the months prior from a kidney infection, possibly amplified by her loss of health insurance following her firing.

This decision was delivered by Justice Gorsuch, who was joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Roberts. The dissent consisted of Alito and Thomas, along with an independent dissent from Kavanaugh.

Donna Stephens, the wife of Aimee Stephens, said the following about the victory. “My wife Aimee was my soulmate. We were married for 20 years. For the last seven years of Aimee’s life, she rose as a leader who fought against discrimination against transgender people, starting when she was fired for coming out as a woman, despite her recent promotion at the time. I am grateful for this victory to honor the legacy of Aimee, and to ensure people are treated fairly regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Amicus Briefs


  • Unitarian Universalist Association
  • Lambda Legal
  • Equality Ohio
  • Private Rights/Public Conscience Project
  • Americans United for Separation of Church and State 
  • The Anti-Defamation League 
  • Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice
  • Central Conference of American Rabbis
  • Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc.
  • The Interfaith Alliance Foundation
  • Keshet; Muslim Advocates
  • People for the American Way Foundation
  • Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
  • Reconstructionist Rabbinical College / Jewish Reconstructionist Communities Union for Reform Judaism
  • The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
  • Women of Reform Judaism
  • Center for Constitutional Rights & Transgender Law Center et al


  • Foundation for Moral Law
  • Jewish Coalition for Religious Liberty
  • I Belong Amen Ministries
  • Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • Restoring Liberty Action Committee
  • Center for Morality
  • Douglas J. Peterson - Nebraska Attorney General
  • David Bydalek - Nebraska Chief Deputy Attorney General
  • Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, et al Attorney Generals

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