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Businesses can discriminate against trans workers, says US Justice Department

Businesses can discriminate against trans workers, says US Justice Department

Supreme Court to hear Aimee Stephens' case

The United States’ Department of Justice (DOJ) has told the Supreme Court that businesses can legally discriminate against transgender workers.

In a brief sent on Wednesday (24 October), Solicitor General Noel Francisco said that a civil rights law banning sex discrimination in the workplace doesn’t apply to transgender bias.

The trans community and rights advocates reacted with despair. The brief is a worrying sign that the Trump administration intends to continue attacks on the rights of trans Americans.

Over the weekend, the New York Times obtained a leaked memo from the Trump administration effectively erasing trans people. It planned to legally erase transgender people by restricting the definition of sex to genitalia at birth.

Title VII

Wednesday’s DOJ brief referenced the case of Aimee Stephens. The trans woman claims she was fired by a Detroit-area funeral home solely because of her gender identity.

After the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission took up the case, a Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit found that the company violated federal workplace discrimination law.

But, the funeral home took the case to the Supreme Court. The court is currently deciding whether to take up the case.

It has also been asked to rule on two other cases on whether sexual orientation bias is a form of sex discrimination banned under the existing law.

‘The court of appeals misread the statute and this Court’s decisions in concluding that Title VII encompasses discrimination on the basis of gender identity,’ Francisco said in a brief filed with the court.

Worryingly, the US swore in Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who has shown anti-equality prejudices, as a Supreme Court justice earlier this month.

His appointment tilts the nation’s highest court to the conservative side.

‘Slam dunk case’

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also filed briefs with Supreme Court on Wednesday.

‘[The court] should recognize the rightness of those earlier court decisions and allow the ruling in Aimee’s case to stand’ it said according to a statement online.

‘Her story shows why it’s simply wrong to fire someone because they are transgender’

‘This administration is not a friend of the LGBT community,’ Greg Nevins, an attorney for Lambda Legal, told Bloomberg Law.

‘You’re talking about someone with the same bundle of experience and qualifications coming back in the form of a woman,’ Nevins said. ‘That sounds like not only a viable sex discrimination case but a slam dunk case.’

The National Center for Transgender Equality also tweeted their support.

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