Civil Rights LGBT

Federal Government Opposes Federal Government on Trans Rights

SK Ashby
Written by SK Ashby

Trump's Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a brief with the Supreme Court on Monday that claims transgender people are not protected by federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination based on "sex."

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is actually responsible for enforcing non-discrimination laws governing the workplace, now says it will continue to enforce the law as if it covers transgender individuals.

From Bloomberg Law:

“The EEOC has not relented and has not retracted,” said [chairwoman Victoria Lipnic], who President Donald Trump tapped for the acting leadership role last year. “At some point there is going to be some new leadership at the EEOC,” Lipinc said in an interview. “I can’t predict what will happen there. I can only say this is what I’ve done and this is what I thought was important for the commission to do.” [...]

Lipnic, who is expected to remain on the EEOC as a commissioner through 2020, acknowledged that the EEOC’s position also could change if the U.S. Supreme Court decides the issue. The high court has been asked to take up three cases on whether LGBT discrimination is sex bias, banned by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The EEOC says it has obtained more than $6 million, mostly settlement money, from businesses that allegedly discriminate against gay and transgender workers over the last five years.

The Supreme Court may do the unthinkable and rule that "sex" does not cover gender identity under current federal law, but it's also possible the case could be remanded back to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Sixth Circuit ruled that "sex" does cover gender identity, but they did so at a time when the Department of Justice and the rest of the federal government formally supported that position. Trump's Justice Department has changed its position at the last minute when the case has already reached the highest court.

I don't know what's going to happen next, but whatever happens may not be the final word.

EEOC Chairwoman Victoria Lipnic deserves credit for following the law as it stands instead of allowing Jeff Sessions to dictate it to her. Depending on how the court rules, she may continue to enforce the law as we know it for the next year or two.