The Justice Department officially says it’s legal for businesses to discriminate against trans employees
It’s been less than a week since reports broke that the Trump administration is seeking to define gender as biologically male or female, a change that would legally erase transgender and intersex people. And the federal government is once again threatening trans rights by enabling sex-based workplace discrimination against trans employees.
According to Bloomberg Law, on October 24th, the Justice Department told the Supreme Court that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which protects employees from gender-based discrimination on the job, does not extend to trans people.
SCOTUS is currently considering whether or not to overturn a decision made by the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which ruled that a Michigan funeral home violated Title VII by firing its director, Aimee Stephens, after she came out as trans. In a filing with the court, Solicitor General Noel Francisco argued against this ruling, claiming that Title VII only prohibits discrimination based on biological sex.
"Title VII thus does not apply to discrimination against an individual based on his or her gender identity," Francisco wrote in the filing.
In a blog post on its website, the American Civil Liberties Union wrote that it has asked the Supreme Court to uphold the ruling in Stephens’ case and continue to cover trans people under Title VII. Greg Nevins, an attorney for Lambda Legal, told Bloomberg Law that the “courts will have the final word.”
"This administration is not a friend of the LGBT community, Nevins said. “They can say what they’re going to say, but the courts will have the final word."
This isn’t the first time the Trump administration has challenged the definition of gender discrimination under Title VII: In October 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum arguing that the civil rights law shouldn’t extend to trans employees. But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission continues to view discrimination based on LGBT status as protected under the law.
It’s scary to see the government claim that basic civil rights shouldn’t protect all people. Trans rights are human rights, and trans employees deserve to be able to work without fear of discrimination at their jobs. We need to keep challenging this administration’s discriminatory policies, and for now, that means voting n the 2018 midterm elections on November 6th.