Tennessee joins states in fight to overturn transgender rights ruling

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Tennessee joined 15 other states in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a decision that ruled workplace anti-discrimination laws extended to transgender workers, CBS affiliate WTVF reported.

Recently, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a Michigan funeral home had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by firing a transgender employee who didn't follow the employer's dress code.

A release from Tennessee AG Herbert H. Slatery stated that the ruling interpreted Title VII's prohibition on discrimination "because of sex" to include discrimination based on an employee's transgender status.

Chris Sanders, Executive Director of the Tennessee Equality Project, said the AG is misinterpreting the law.

"This is picking on a group that is already picked on," said Sanders. "Someone is still being fired because that person doesn't meet the conception of others. It is still sex discrimination."

Tennessee joined other states, Alabama, Arkansas, Nebraska, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Mississippi, seeking a review of the decision.

The argument is that when Congress enacted Title VII in 1964, it used the word "sex" to mean only biological sex, not gender identity.

“The Sixth Circuit’s decision in Harris essentially rewrote federal law,” said Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III. “Unless and until Congress affirmatively acts to change Title VII, it is up to the States, not the federal judiciary, to determine which protections, or not, should flow to individuals based on gender identity.”