For the second time in a week, the Trump administration has attempted to erode workplace protections for LGBTQ+ employees.
As BuzzFeed was the first to report, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a brief to the Supreme Court on Friday that claims federal law does not prevent employers from firing workers based solely on their gender identity. Under debate is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids discrimination on the basis of characteristics like race, color, national origin, religion, and sex.
While the Obama administration argued the definition of “sex” is inclusive of gender identity, Trump’s DOJ disagrees. It believes the term refers solely to “biological sex.”
“Title VII does not prohibit discrimination against transgender persons based on their transgender status,” the Justice Department claims in the court filing. “It simply does not speak to discrimination because of an individual’s gender identity or a disconnect between an individual’s gender identity and the individual’s sex.”
According to the Trump administration, Title VII is intended to prohibit discrimination on the basis of “treating an individual less favorably than similarly situated individuals of the opposite sex.”
The opinion regards a trio of cases currently pending before the Supreme Court. In October, the court will hear arguments in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia; Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda; and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC. In the latter case, Aimee Stephens claims her former employer, Harris Funeral Homes, fired her after she came out as transgender.
This is not the first time the Trump administration has stated its belief that LGBTQ+ workers are not protected under federal civil rights laws.
Just this week, news broke that the White House is attempting to force the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to reverse its position on whether Title VII protects workers on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The EEOC has held that it does, while the Trump administration has done everything in its power since 2017 to rollback LGBTQ+ rights across the board.
Oral arguments in the three aforementioned cases are set to be heard at the Supreme Court on October 8. The outcome will determine whether LGBTQ+ people are entitled to protection in the 29 states whether it is legal to fire queer and transgender people solely based on their identity.