DOJ rescinds policy protecting transgender people from workplace discrimination

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed a major Obama-era policy change on October 5, one that extended the Civil Rights Act to protect transgender employees from discrimination in the workplace.

On Oct. 5, an internal DOJ memo revealed that Sessions had reversed a policy from the Obama administration that had protected transgender employees under the 1964 Civil Rights Act's Title VII, which protects workers from being discriminated based on their sex, BuzzFeed News reports.

As Holden points out, "the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an independent agency that enforces civil rights law in the workplace, and a growing body of federal court decisions have found sex discrimination does include discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sex stereotyping - and that Title VII therefore bans anti-transgender discrimination as well".

Sessions wrote that it is the responsibility of the Justice Department to interpret the law "as written by Congress" and that the existing text does not explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.

It's not the first time the Trump administration has broken with its predecessor on how to interpret Title VII. In that case, Justice Department lawyers wrote that "that Title VII does not prohibit discrimination because of sexual orientation" and efforts to amend Title VII's scope "should be directed to Congress rather than the courts".


Session's view reverses the position former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder staked out under the Obama administration in a 2014 memo affirming Title VII covers "encompasses discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status".

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is reviving a Bush era crime-fighting strategy that emphasizes aggressive prosecution of gun and gang crimes.

And earlier this year, Sessions withdrew his predecessor's guidance on protections for transgender students in public schools that allowed them to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity. "We'll see him in court". "Transgender workers deserve to know their government will have their back when they're faced with discrimination".

The lawsuit is filed in Washington by two gay rights organizations representing eight transgender USA service members.

James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's LGBT and HIV Project, also blasted the move. But transgender people in particular face rampant discrimination in the United States, and action to combat workplace discrimination is urgently needed. That's according to a new memo from Attorney General Jeff Sessions obtained by BuzzFeed Thursday.

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