The U.S. Supreme Court and Death Care

There is a lot of talk about the United States Supreme Court this week.  The talk ramps up during the first week of October every year because that is when the court goes back into session hearing cases after its summer recess.  Here is an article from the Washington Post pertaining to the issues coming before the nation’s top court this year.

The article points out five cases that highlight the agenda for the court:

  • Whether federal law protects LGBTQ workers from discrimination or being fired.
  • Whether the Trump administration’s efforts to end the Obama-era program that protects immigrants brought to this country as children are lawful.
  • The first 2nd Amendment claim involving gun ownership in more than a decade
  • Whether a state may withhold aid to private religious schools if it offers funding to secular ones.
  • An abortion case that gives the court’s new conservatives an opportunity to begin reconstructing its jurisprudence on what is perhaps the nation’s most divisive subject.

And this year, those of us in the death care industry are more interested than ever because one of the landmark cases that will help define discrimination will come from a case that has grown out of a funeral home/ employee dispute.  That case, known as the Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, is scheduled to begin arguments today.

As you may know, the case stems from the case of Anthony/Aimee Stephens and the dress code by which the person was expected to follow per the funeral home’s dress code for employees.

Here is an opinion piece on that case from the New York Post.

Here is an article on Aimee Stephens and her quest for identity as it pertains to this case also from the New York Post.

Funeral Director Daily take:  While the business of death care is busy 24/7 every day of the year,  it is kind of unique that the funeral or cemetery profession has a case that will get this much attention in front of our Supreme Court, and be one of the cases that cause the justices to decide landmark rules on the definitions of discrimination.

Like many people, I can see arguments on both sides of this issue.  On one side is an individual that wants to dress for the way they feel.  On the other side is a business that believes its brand and its potential business could be affected if employees don’t dress the way it feels is proper for the business to prosper.

Like many Supreme Court cases, arguments will be taken over the next few days and then we will more than likely wait until Spring for a decision to be handed down.

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