Proving the Dept. of Justice under Attorney General Sessions has no desire to support or even understand LGBT civil rights, a DOZJ spokesperson explained to Buzzfeed its reasoning for rescinding the 2014 memo protecting transgender workers.
"Title VII's prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status".
Several LGBTQ civil rights groups blasted Sessions' directive.
In a statement Thursday, a Justice Department spokesperson said, "The Department of Justice can not expand the law beyond what Congress has provided".
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"According to Sessions, an employer is free to hang a "Transgender Need Not Apply" sign in their window".
"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. In that case, Justice Department lawyers wrote that "that Title VII does not prohibit discrimination because of sexual orientation" and efforts to amend Title VII's scope "should be directed to Congress rather than the courts".
"Today marks another low point for a Department of Justice, which has been cruelly consistent in its hostility towards the LGBT community and in particular its inability to treat transgender people with basic dignity and respect", said James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's LGBT & HIV Project. "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", she said.
While that move was also greeted with dismay by civil rights advocates, it was less of a reversal than Mr. Sessions's memo on Thursday, because the Obama administration never took the position that the bar to "sex" discrimination should be interpreted as extending to sexual orientation. "Courts have repeatedly ruled that transgender people are protected by sex discrimination laws in employment, education, housing and healthcare". The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a government agency that deals with civil rights in the workplace, determined that sex discrimination also includes discrimination based on gender identity and sex stereotyping. "We are confident that the courts will continue to agree and will reject the politically driven decision by Attorney General Sessions".
Sessions said that interpretation went beyond what Congress intended.