Friday, 20 October, 2017

Sessions reverses non-discrimination protections for transgender workers

President Donald Trump's announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from servi President Donald Trump's announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from servi
Wilma Wheeler | 06 October, 2017, 00:30

The move that could weaken legal protections for people already experiencing higher rates of biaswas announced by the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, in a memo dated Wednesday and obtained by BuzzFeed.

On Oct. 5, an internal DOJ memo revealed that Sessions had reversed a policy from the Obama administration that had protected transgender employees under the 1964 Civil Rights Act's Title VII, which protects workers from being discriminated based on their sex, BuzzFeed News reports. "The Justice Department must and will continue to affirm the dignity of all people, including transgender individuals", Sessions wrote in the memo to the nation's federal prosecutors.

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.

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.

"It adds that the government will take this position in pending and future matters, which could have far-reaching implications across the federal government and may result in the Justice Department fighting against transgender workers in court".

"Although federal law, including Title VII, provides various protections to transgender individuals, Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se", the memo continued. It will either stay on the sidelines or tell courts that the law should not be interpreted as barring discrimination by the employers.

"The Department of Justice can not expand the law beyond what Congress has provided", DOJ spokesperson Devin O'Malley said in a statement. "This department remains committed to protecting the civil and constitutional rights of all individuals, and will continue to enforce the numerous laws that Congress has enacted that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation". Unfortunately, the last administration abandoned that fundamental principle, which necessitated today's action.

"Discrimination against transgender people is sex discrimination, just as DOJ recognized years ago". 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. It means that the government will no longer back their claims in court, and it will affect how hundreds of attorneys and investigators for the federal government respond to civil rights complaints from transgender people.

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