The U.S. Department of Justice has reversed course on whether federal law banning sex discrimination in the workplace provides protections for transgender employees, saying in a memo that it does not. The memo sent to U.S. Attorneys’ offices on Wednesday by Attorney General Jeff Sessions Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 only prohibits discrimination on the basis of a worker’s biological sex, and not their gender identity.
Sessions rescinded an Obama administration memo from 2014 that said Title VII does protect transgender people, a position also taken by several federal appeals courts in recent years. Department spokesman Devin O‘Malley said in a statement the government cannot expand the law beyond what Congress had intended. “Unfortunately, the last administration abandoned that fundamental principle, which necessitated today’s action,” he said.
The DNC reacts via press release:
“This week, Jeff Sessions escalated the Trump administration’s war on LGBTQ people. By reinterpreting our employment laws to try to stop protecting transgender people from discrimination, Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and Jeff Sessions have revealed their real goal – turn the clock back to a time when life was even more difficult for LGBTQ people, transgender individuals in particular.
“Fortunately, the courts have rebuked this bigotry and made clear that LGBTQ Americans have the right to be free from discrimination in the workplace. It’s time for Congress to do the same, because Attorney General Sessions can’t be trusted to protect us or our civil rights. Democrats support the right of LGBTQ people to live and work without fear and demand Sessions stop using the Department of Justice to further this administration’s divisive agenda.”