By ED WHITE
Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) – The government has cleared an important hurdle in a discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of a transgender employee who was fired by a Detroit-area funeral home.

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Federal Judge Sean Cox this week turned down a request to dismiss the case.

Cox says federal law doesn’t specifically protect a transgender person. But he says there’s binding legal precedent that protects people who are fired for failing to conform to a gender-based expectation.

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Home in Garden City. Amiee Stephens, an embalmer and funeral director, was fired after disclosing that she was transitioning from male to female and would dress as a woman.

The funeral home says it has a legitimate interest in presenting a certain “face” to the public.

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