The funeral home owner at the center of an LGBT-centered Supreme Court case says the ACLU is trying to use his business as a “pawn” to pursue an agenda “it has been unable to achieve in Congress.”
The case, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. EEOC, centers around former employee Aimee Stephens, who originally agreed to the sex-specific dress code of the establishment but later decided he wanted to present himself as a woman. Stephens was fired, and the ACLU accused Rost of discrimination.
Business owner Thomas Rost said that is not the case and spoke after the Supreme Court heard the case.
“Americans and American businesses should be able to rely on what the law says,” Rost said. “We’re hoping the Supreme Court will uphold that basic right for everyone.
“Our business exists to serve grieving families. There is no time in life more difficult than after losing a loved one,” he continued.
“Our company has a professional code of conduct and sex-specific dress code to ensure families can focus on processing their grief,” he explained.
Rost said he hired a male funeral director who agreed to the code of conduct and sex-specific dress code in 2007. Nearly six years later, the employee penned a letter, indicating that he wanted to violate the dress code and present himself as a female.
“I felt deep concern for the employee. I care about all the people who work for me. They’re part of my family. That’s why I intervened to save the employee’s job a few months earlier,” he said.
He reiterated that his business created the dress code for grieving families and determined that it was in the best interest of those families to reject the employee’s request, describing it as a “difficult choice.”
Even though Rost acted in accord with federal law, the ACLU targeted his business.
“The ACLU is trying to use my grandfather’s business as a pawn to achieve a larger political goal that it has been unable to achieve in Congress, where this issue belongs,” he said.
“We’re hopeful that the Supreme Court won’t impose such unjust punishment on us,” he continued. “All of us should be able to rely on what the law says.”