In July, the Trump administration’s Department of Justice argued
that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, does not prevent employers
from firing an employee based on their sexual orientation. The DOJ’s
filing came the say day that President Trump made an announcement that
transgendered troops would be banned from serving in the U.S. military.
The two actions have enraged lawmakers, activists, and other organization
leaders who argue that the current administration is seeking to eliminate
the rights and protections won by the LGBT community during the Obama era.
Under Title VII,
employment discrimination based on a person’s race, color, national origin, sex, and religion
is explicitly prohibited. However, sexual orientation protections are
not specifically listed in the law. In July of 2015, the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission ruled that discrimination based on sexual orientation
is essentially sex based discrimination. The commission ultimately decided
that LGBT discrimination is “premised on sex-based preferences,
assumptions, expectations, stereotypes, or norms” and therefore
barred by the law. At the time, the EEOC’s ruling was hailed as
a victory for the LGBT community and was abided by the DOJ under the Obama
The filing made by Trump’s DOJ said, “the sole question here
is whether, as a matter of law, Title VII reaches sexual orientation discrimination.
It does not, as has been settled for decades. Any efforts to amend Title
VII’s scope should be directed to Congress rather than the courts.”
Courts are not legally bound by EEOC positions, they’re only required
to honor legislation and the rulings of courts to which their cases can
be appealed. This includes the Supreme Court as well. However, the EEOC’s
decision still has some merit. This is because the commission enforces
Title VII, has the authority to bring lawsuits based on its rulings against
private employers, and adjudicates cases for federal workers against federal agencies.
Do you have more questions about LGBT rights in the workplace? Contact our Hollister employment law attorney
to get started on your free consultation today.