Yesterday, BuzzFeed News reported that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed a federal government policy that said transgender workers were protected from discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, citing a memo sent to agency heads and US attorneys this week.
The law in question is Title VII, a 1964 civil rights law which prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of sex. The Obama administration issued policy guidance to clarify that “sex” includes gender identity, which means that if a trans person experiences discrimination, violence, or harassment at work, they could pursue legal recourse. But now Jeff Sessions has erased that protection with a single memo.
Attorney Sam Schwartz-Fenwick said that the Attorney General’s announcement that the position of the DOJ is that Title VII does not extend to claims of gender identity discrimination is at odds with the majority of Federal courts that have analyzed this question, and also at odds with the current position of the EEOC.
“Until the Supreme Court weighs in on this hotly disputed issue, employers should consult with counsel to evaluate their internal policies, practices, and procedures with an eye toward transgender claims,” he said.