US Justice Department reverses policy that protected trans people from workplace discrimination
06 October, 2017, 00:44 | Author: Rita Burton
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reversed a three-year-old Justice Department policy that protected transgender workers from discrimination under federal law.
"Title VII's prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status", Sessions wrote in the memo, according to BuzzFeed.
Jeff Sessions says in his memo that this is about "law, not policy" but the courts clearly disagree.
Transgender people face extraordinary discrimination and harassment every day.
Critics site the reversal as part of the Trump administration's ongoing campaign against LGBT people-including reinstating the ban on trans people in the military and filing a rare brief supporting a Christian baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. 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".
The armed forces were set to begin enlisting transgender people July 1, but Mattis suspended that move, while announcing in September that current enlistees will be allowed to continue serving, pending the results of a study and recommendations by a panel of experts. Under his view, the law only covers discrimination between "men and women". Four federal appellate courts - the First, Sixth, Ninth and Eleventh circuit courts of appeals - have determined employment discrimination against transgender people is barred under the law.
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Transgender people have a high incident rate of employment discrimination.
Devin O'Malley, a spokesperson for the Justice Department, explained the decision to issue the memo, telling BuzzFeed News, "The Department of Justice can not expand the law beyond what Congress has provided".
The directive was obtained by BuzzFeed News and explicitly addresses Title VII, the section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that deals with discrimination on the basis of an individual's sex.
"The Sessions DOJ is trying to roll back the clock and pretend that the progress of the last decade hasn't happened", McGowan added.
As Attorney General, Sessions has wide latitude to interpret federal laws and decide how they should be enforced. Trump admin will stop at nothing to drag us backwards. In February, the department withdrew guidance clarifying that the sex discrimination provisions of Title IX protect transgender students in schools.
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