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Civil rights law doesn't apply to transgender workers, says Justice Department memo
06 October 2017, 12:47 | Jermaine Blake
Jeff Sessions Reverses Policy that Protects Transgender Employees from Workplace Discrimination
This upends previous guidance issued under the Obama administration, that said a 1964 federal civil rights law protects trans people on the basis of sex discrimination.
Attorney General Jeff Sessionsreversed 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.
'Discrimination against transgender people is sex discrimination, just as DOJ recognized years ago.
LGBT-rights advocates immediately assailed the reversal as the latest in a series of Trump administration actions targeting their constituency.
The position also ignores multiple circuit court rulings affirming transgender people are eligible for protections under Title VII.
"Although federal law, including Title VII, provides various protections to transgender individuals, Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se", Sessions writes. "This is a conclusion of law, not policy. Transgender workers deserve to know their government will have their back when they're faced with discrimination".
"The Department of Justice can not expand the law beyond what Congress has provided", the DOJ's Devin O'Malley told Buzzfeed.
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In 2014 then-Attorney General Eric Holder issued a memo stating: "I have determined that the best reading of Title VII's prohibition of sex discrimination is that it encompasses discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status". In July, the Justice Department filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals urging the court to rule that the law did not protect against sexual orientation-based job discrimination as written. "The memo is devoid of discussion of the way case law has been developing in this area for the last few years".
Congress makes our laws and the courts interpret - not the DOJ.
Title VII was a landmark civil rights law that banned discrimination in employment, schools, and voter registration on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, and sex.
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In response, the suing groups, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), called it a "fantasy" that Trump's tweeted announcement July 26 that the government "will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military", followed by an August 25 presidential memorandum, has not affected thousands of service members and their families.
Before the Obama policy change, the Pentagon had concluded that there was no basis for the military to exclude transgender people, as long as they could meet the same fitness requirements as other service members.
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