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Sessions Removes Transgender Workplace Protections

by Countable | 10.5.17

What’s the story?

President Obama’s Justice Department extended Title VII Civil Rights Workplace Protections to transgender employees. Attorney General Jeff Sessions just rescinded that policy, reports Buzzfeed.

Advocacy groups are likely to take the government to court to challenge Sessions’ change in policy.

Why does it matter?

Sessions made a statement that asserts transgender worker protections are not a matter of law, and the Department of Justice will now follow the law:

"Although federal law, including Title VII, provides various protections to transgender individuals, Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se. This is a conclusion of law, not policy. As a law enforcement agency, the Department of Justice must interpret Title VII as written by Congress."

But Sharon McGowan, attorney for LGBT advocacy group Lambda Legal, told Buzzfeed that this argument ignores the evolving of legal precedent in recent years:

"It's ironic for them to say this is law, and not policy. The memo is devoid of discussion of the way case law has been developing in this area for the last few years. It demonstrates that this memo is not actually a reflection of the law as it is — it's a reflection of what the DOJ wishes the law were."

The Obama-era decision regarding transgender worker protections was consistent with the legal opinion of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which asserts that Title VII protections based on sex extend to gender identity and sex stereotyping.

Similar to their position on DACA, where the current Justice Department asserted that the president did not have the legal authority to establish immigration policy, Sessions is arguing that the Department of Justice does not have the authority to expand Title VII to protect transgender individuals. That protection, they say, can only be extended by Congress.

What do you think?

Do you support the new position of the Justice Department or the old one? Do you think Title VII already protects transgender individuals from workplace discrimination or not? Given the current administration’s position, should Congress take steps to explicitly protect transgender individuals from workplace discrimination in the law?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr / Creative Commons)

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(240)
  • Kyle
    10/05/2017
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    This is disgusting; imagine if he removed any more protections for anyone based off their race, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status or anything that is protected. There should be a huge uproar and I know there would be a ginormous one if he "removed" any more. This is simply pure discrimination against one community and this is the worst cabinet ever...

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  • Mona
    10/05/2017
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    Let’s remove workplace protections for elderly white southern straight racist men.

    Like (88)
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  • Michael.J.L
    10/05/2017
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    This has absolutely nothing to do with interpretation of the law by Sessions. It has everything to do with the Religious Right's hatred of LGBTQ individuals and feelings that their religious rights are being violated by not being allowed to discriminate against anyone who they think goes against their moral or religious values.

    Like (84)
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  • William
    10/05/2017
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    It serves no purpose to discriminate against some of our citizens just because they are different. God made each of us as we ate, and groups like transgenders pose no threat to anyone. Depriving then of constitutional rights held by the rest of us is just unchristian.

    Like (43)
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  • Mancos
    10/05/2017
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    Jeff Sessions adheres to the law only when it suits him. No surprise he didn't get approval from the Senate his last go around. What was it Cory Gardner said in his response when urged NOT to approve Sessions? Oh yes "the President deserves to have people around him he trusts." Disgusting.

    Like (36)
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  • Holly
    10/05/2017
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    Why would we want to take away any workplace protections for anyone let alone transgendered people who are the most vulnerable to prejudice, as well as bodily harm?

    Like (29)
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  • James
    10/05/2017
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    When I was in school we were taught that all men (and women) were created equal, or at least that is what our founders thought. It is a sad comment on our history that we needed to amend our constitution to allow women the right to vote or to finally recognize that human being are not property. But it seems that we have not moved very far. Transgender Americans are entitled to all the protections of all other citizens of this nation. Donald Trump said he would be a friend to the LGBT community. Transgender people's rights are under attack and there is a case of discrimination against gay rights currently before the Supreme Court. What is the expression, with friends like these...? Congress, Judiciary when will you stop,this despot?

    Like (26)
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  • Isabel
    10/05/2017
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    The GOP elected a racist & bigot. We must organize & vote 2018 yo Impeach Trump & get these guys out of office.

    Like (23)
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  • Tobias
    10/06/2017
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    The justice department’s ignorance of recent law precedent protecting transgender people is a clear move to discriminate against these Americans and a push for religious mores within government, a violation of the seperation of church and state. We need a government that protects our citizens rights regardless of race or any other classification.

    Like (17)
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  • Craig
    10/05/2017
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    I like how you guys word the question. Do I support the current Justice Department’s view of Title VII or do I support the “old” view? The “old” view has been the understanding for merely a few years (since King Obama passed down his edict). The purveying view has been the same since 1964, that this does not extend to people who wake up one day and decide to change genders. To answer the question, I support the idea of Congress holding a vote on this issue. In fact, I urge my congressmen to beg their leaders to do so. That way, we can really see how much of America actually supports the idea that sexual identity is a whimsical and changing phenomenon. We can rewrite the laws of the land, but no one can rewrite the laws of the universe. Girls have girl parts, boys have boy parts—God has spoken. The end.

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  • Monica
    10/05/2017
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    Disgraceful! This whole administration is disgraceful!

    Like (15)
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  • Suzi
    10/06/2017
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    I DO NOT support the new position of the Justice Department. Congress should take steps to explicitly protect transgender individuals from workplace discrimination in the law.

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  • Joanne
    10/05/2017
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    ALL people should be protected against all discrimination. Once again I will say, if you are not white, male, rich and straight, this administration wants to do away with you. We, the American people, need to do away with this pathetic, bigoted administration ASAP. They are destroying this country with their twisted religious viewpoints. They use the word of GOD to do the devils work.

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  • Katherine
    10/06/2017
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    When a government can decide who gets protection and civil rights and who doesn’t that government is on a dark path towards tyranny. Your religious beliefs hold no merit in government, we are a republic, not a theocracy. Restore the rights of transgendered people and protect the rights of ALL United States citizens.

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  • MJDalio
    10/05/2017
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    Title IX prevents discrimination against people participating in sports based on the individuals biological sex not on what sex they feel like today. Men should not be competing against women because they feel they should be or want to be a woman. Whatever sex you are at birth is the sex you remain as it pertains to title IX

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  • Madison
    10/06/2017
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    This is disgusting. Would you remove workplace protections for cis men? No. This is yet another blow to the LGBT community, a community which is already in danger even with these protections. Now transgender individual are no longer protected and you have opened them back up to discrimination. The government is cowardly for allowing this to happen, depriving a group already discriminated against from protection offered to everyone else. They are scared of progress, and it shows.

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  • Jacob
    10/06/2017
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    This asshole needs to go back to his tree and make some cookies.

    Like (8)
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  • Rebecca
    10/05/2017
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    Shame on sessions. What's next? I vote let's remove basic workplace protections for Sessions.

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  • Adam
    10/05/2017
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    This is terrible

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  • Becca
    10/06/2017
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    Session is less than the scum of the earth he thinks he's some great man paving the way for the "forgotten American". He's going to be surprised when he ends up in Hell on there VIP list.

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