Sixteen US states want the Supreme Court to limit transgender workplace rights

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 25: Demonstrators protest for transgender rights on February 25, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The demonstrators were angry with President Donald Trumps recent decision to reverse the Obama-era policy requiring public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A group of 16 US states have asked the Supreme Court to rule that companies can fire workers based on their gender identity without violating federal workplace discrimination laws.

The move is linked to the case of a Michigan funeral home that fired a trans worker in 2013 after she told them she was transitioning.

The employee, Aimee Stephens, sued R.G and G.R Harris Funeral Homes on the basis that her dismissal was sex discrimination under federal Title VII law, which prohibits gender discrimination.

Earlier this year, a federal district court ruled in Stephens’ favour.

The group argues the ban on sex discrimination does not cover LGBT employees (Maria Belen Perez Gabilondo/AFP/Getty Images)

The group of 16 states – led by Nebraska Attorney General David Bydalek – asked the justices to overturn the decision, arguing Congress did not intend the ban on sex discrimination to cover LGBT employees.

“The States’ purpose is to note that ‘sex’ under the plain terms of Title VII does not mean anything other than biological status,” Bydalek wrote, according to Bloomberg Law.

Thirteen Republican attorneys general, including those representing Texas, Alabama, Kansas, and Utah, joined in the court filing.

Earlier this month, a US court issued a ruling rejecting Donald Trump’s proposal to ban most transgender people from serving in the military.

Protesters gather in front of the White House July 26, 2017, in Washington, DC. Trump announced on July 26 that transgender people may not serve "in any capacity" in the US military, citing the "tremendous medical costs and disruption" their presence would cause. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

Demonstrators protest the transgender military ban (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

The district court in Washington is the second court to block the Trump administration, since it revealed the updated policy in March.

Trump first proposed blocking all transgender people from serving in the military in a series of tweets in July 2017.

He then endorsed an updated proposal by defence secretary Jim Mattis in March to prevent “transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria” from serving in the military “except under certain limited circumstances.”

In a ruling released on 6 August, district judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly argued that the amended proposal is effectively a categorical ban on all trans people from serving in the military, writing: “By targeting proxies of transgender status, such as ‘gender dysphoria’ and ‘gender transition,’ and by requiring all service members to serve ‘in their biological sex.’”

The judge refused a request from the Trump government to lift an injunction she had made against the US president’s original ban.