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DOJ to Supreme Court: Transgender Workers Are Not Protected by Civil Rights Law

Dara Sharif


Apparently, as far as the Trump administration is concerned, employers have every right to fire transgender people.

In a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, the Justice Department argued that the nation’s civil rights laws don’t pertain to transgender people, and thus, a lawsuit filed by a trans woman charging that she was wrongly terminated due to her gender identity should be decided in favor of the employer, NBC News reports.

As NBC explains:

The brief was submitted in a case concerning Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman who was fired from a Detroit funeral home after she informed her employer that she was beginning her gender transition. The case, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, et al., is one of three cases concerning LGBTQ workers’ rights that the Supreme Court is expected to hear this fall.

A lower court, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, in March 2018 ruled in Stephens’ favor, deciding that the funeral home had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in ruling that the employer had discriminated “on the basis of sex,” according to The Hill.

But in speaking out in favor of the funeral home, the Justice Department argued “sex” only pertained to “biological sex.”

Per The Hill:

in their court filing submitted Friday, Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco and Department of Justice attorneys argued that the specific Civil Rights Act provision “does not bar discrimination because of transgender status,” meaning the Michigan funeral home was within its right to fire Stephens.

“In 1964, the ordinary public meaning of ‘sex’ was biological sex. It did not encompass transgender status,” the brief reads. “In the particular context of Title VII — legislation originally designed to eliminate employment discrimination against racial and other minorities — it was especially clear that the prohibition on discrimination because of ‘sex’ referred to unequal treatment of men and women in the workplace.”

The Trump administration’s insertion into this matter must seem most ironic to many coming as it did on the very same day that the Log Cabin Republicans, a GOP advocacy group for the LGBT community, came out Friday with an all-out endorsement of Trump’s re-election bid. 

Though Robert Kabel and Jill Homan noted that “there is more to be done,” even acknowledging that “LGBTQ individuals can still be fired just for being gay,” the group’s chairman and chairwoman in an op-ed for the Washington Post wrote that:

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    Transgender Inclusive Insurance
    Gender Equity/Diversity

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