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The Journal Gazette

Friday, October 06, 2017 8:20 pm

Transgender workplace protection rescinded

Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Federal civil rights law does not protect transgender people from discrimination at work, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a memo released Thursday that rescinds guidance issued under the Obama administration.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars workplace discrimination between men and women but does not extend to gender identity, Sessions said.

Sessions called the interpretation a “conclusion of law, not policy,” and said the move should not be construed to condone mistreatment of transgender people. “The Justice Department must and will continue to affirm the dignity of all people, including transgender individuals,” Sessions wrote in the memo to the nation’s federal prosecutors.

But LGBT-rights advocates assailed the reversal as the latest in series of Trump administration actions targeting their constituency.

“Today marks another low point for a Department of Justice which has been cruelly consistent in its hostility towards the LGBT community and in particular its inability to treat transgender people with basic dignity and respect,” said James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT & HIV Project.

The Obama Justice Department viewed Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act as a prohibition against workplace discrimination against transgender people and said it would bring legal claims on their behalf. Sessions said that interpretation went beyond what Congress intended.

There is no federal law explicitly prohibiting workplace discrimination against transgender people. But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has argued they are protected from workplace bias as a form of sex discrimination covered by the law.