Jeff Sessions Rolls Back Obama Era Policy Giving Trans People Work Place Protection Rights
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that federal civil rights law does not protect transgender people from discrimination in the workplace, reversing an Obama administration policy issued nearly three years ago.
In a directive earlier this week to federal prosecutors across the country, Sessions said that the Justice Department would take the new position "in all pending and future matters.''
According to Sessions' memo, the prohibition on sex discrimination "encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity, per se, including transgender status."
The directive effectively rolls back 2014 guidance provided by then-Attorney General Eric Holder, which stated that the "most straightforward reading" of the civil rights law also guards transgender workers from discrimination.
"Although Congress may not have had such claims in mind when it enacted Title VII (sex discrimination protections), 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.' "
In the new memo, Sessions vowed that the Justice Department "must and will continue to affirm the dignity of all people, including transgender individuals."
"The Department of Justice cannot expand the law beyond what Congress has provided," Justice spokesman Devin O'Malley said Thursday.
"Unfortunately, the last administration abandoned that fundamental principle, which necessitated today's action. 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."