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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 16, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 33
DOJ tries to strong-arm EEOC on protections for LGBT+ workers
Section One
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DOJ tries to strong-arm EEOC on protections for LGBT+ workers

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Donald Trump's Department of Justice (DOJ) is putting political pressure on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to get the federal civil rights agency to reverse its position on legal protections for LGBT+ workers.

The EEOC is the federal agency charged with enforcing civil rights laws in the workplace. It does not make law, but it has authority to make administrative rulings that have the force of law, and its findings are influential with judges who ultimately decide discrimination complaints.

Since 2011 the EEOC has stated that stereotyping of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual workers is sex discrimination and therefore illegal. The following year, the EEOC ruled that discrimination against Transgender workers is also sex discrimination.

In 2015 the EEOC ruled that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the workplace is already illegal under existing federal law.

Now, according to Bloomberg Law, the DOJ is 'urging' the EEOC to 'flip' its position and tell the US Supreme Court that discriminating against LGBT+ workers is not a form of sex bias and therefore is totally legal.

'Political leadership in the Solicitor General's office wants the EEOC on board to show the high court that the Trump administration is now unified in the belief that Congress didn't have lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workers in mind when it passed a federal workplace discrimination law more than five decades ago,' Bloomberg Law reported.

The government has until Friday to decide how it will proceed - united or not.

The specific case involves a Trans woman in Michigan who worked as a funeral home director until she informed her employer that she was transitioning. She was then fired.

She complained to the EEOC, which ruled in her favor and successfully sued the employer on her behalf. The employer appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the EEOC overstepped the bounds of existing law by interpreting 'sex' discrimination as including gender identity.

While the Obama administration supported the EEOC ruling, Trump's DOJ wants the finding reversed by the high court.

Bloomberg says it's 'unlikely' the EEOC will reverse course, but it also reports that the DOJ could just 'roll over' the EEOC.

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