Jeff Sessions Reverses Policy that Protects Transgender Employees from Workplace Discrimination


Sessions said in the memo, obtained by BuzzFeed News, that the relevant title in the civil rights law "does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se".

"This is a conclusion of law, not policy", Sessions said, adding that the department will take this new position in all "pending and future matters".

Transgender Law Center, in a press release, said, "The Department of Justice memo on Title VII tries to undo established law protecting transgender employees simply by wishing it so".

In the memo laying out his decision, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama-era rule that had interpreted the Civil Rights Act to protect transgender workers. Sessions's memo effectively strips Title VII of any important nuance-part of his attempt to help Trump make America great again via regressive policies and practices. "The Justice Department is actually getting back in the business of making anti-transgender law in court".

Devin O'Malley, a spokesperson for the Justice Department, told Reuters that Sessions had to step in after the last administration extended the protections of the law beyond what was constitutional.

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Sessions, whose other forward-thinking policies include support for civil forfeiture laws that encourage for-profit policing, and opposition to sensible drug laws, sent the directive on what's known as Title VII to agency heads and United States attorneys throughout the country, BuzzFeed reported.

But according to Sharon McGowan, a former Justice Department lawyer and attorney for an LGBT group called Lambda Legal, criticized the memo as "a raw political document" rather than "sound legal [analysis]".

"The memo is devoid of discussion of the way case law has been developing in this area for the last few years", she said.

"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.

"The Department of Justice can not expand the law beyond what Congress has provided", O'Malley said. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a government agency that deals with civil rights in the workplace, determined that sex discrimination also includes discrimination based on gender identity and sex stereotyping. "The Supreme Court has made clear that Title VII must be interpreted according to its plain text, noting that 'statutory prohibitions often go beyond the principal evil to cover reasonably comparable evils'". On his watch, the Civil Rights Division has also changed its position on whether Texas' strict voter identification law was discriminatory, pulled back from using consent decrees to reform troubled police departments, and launched a project to scrutinize affirmative action practices in university admissions.