This week, Attorney General Sessions issued a directive to prosecutors for the federal government. As such, the AG stated that "in all pending and future matters,'' the position of the Justice Dept. will be that transgender men and women are not protected from workplace discrimination by current federal civil rights laws.
According to the memo Sessions sent to all of the U.S. Attorneys' offices on Oct. 4, the attorney general interpreted the Civil Rights Act of 1964's Title VII to prohibit discrimination solely because of workers' biological sexes, and excludes protection for gender identities.
Sessions' directive reverses the policy that former President Obama issued almost three years ago. In 2014, his predecessor, AG Holder, offered guidance on that matter. In Holder's opinion, the civil rights law's "most straightforward reading" protected transgender workers from discrimination.
The director of the LGBT & HIV Project for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) condemned the Justice Dept.'s action as being "an explicit agenda" that undermines civil rights of members of vulnerable groups. He stated that this Administration's Justice Department "has been cruelly consistent in its hostility towards the LGBT community."
This new policy is disheartening for California workers for a couple of different reasons. The first is that it obviously sets transgendered workers back in their fight for equal rights on the job. But there is a second, more insidious, effect the policy may have on workplaces all across America in both the public and private sectors.
American industries often take their cues from the federal government when it comes to setting sweeping policies that affect their work forces. Sessions' memo could have a chilling effect on transgender employees if the companies that employ them align more with this conservative Administration when setting company policies.
If you feel that you experienced discrimination on the job, you may be able to seek civil redress through the California courts.
Source: USA TODAY, "Jeff Sessions: Transgender people not protected from workplace discrimination," Kevin Johnson, Oct. 05, 2017