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Aug 01 2017
by Diana Pope

Justice Department Rules Against Protecting LGBTQ+ Workplace Rights

By Diana Pope - Aug 01 2017

For decades, courts have ruled that employers are not violating the law by firing individuals based on their sexuality. The Supreme Court has never formally ruled on this issue, and several lower courts have challenged this precedent in the past. Right now, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is once again reconsidering the meaning of the law for sexuality, and Trump's Justice Department has weighed in on the issue. They officially filed a brief stating that the federal law against sex discrimination does not extend to workplace protections for lesbian, gay, and transgender individuals

There has not been an official ruling yet, but it was still a blow to the LGBTQ+ community, especially since the Supreme Court's ruling happened at the same time that Donald Trump announced that transgender people would be banned from serving in the military

To this end, the U.S. Justice Department urged the federal appeal courts to reject a lawsuit involving a skydiving instructor who claimed that he was fired for his sexual preference. The DOJ argued that laws against workplace bias don't apply to the LGBT community, and believes that the ruling would "go too far".  The American Civil Liberties Union sharply criticized the Justice Department's decision, and called it an "gratuitous and extraordinary attack on LGBT people’s civil rights," also saying "fortunately, courts will decide whether the Civil Rights Act protects LGBT people, not an Attorney General and a White House hell-bent on playing politics with people's lives. We are confident that the courts will side with equality and the people.”

However, if the court follows the ideas of the Trump Administration, Congress — not the courts will now be the one in charge of deciding on the reach of LGBTQ+ rights. Conservative groups like the Christian Legal Society and the National Association of Evangelicals support the proposed ruling, and affirmed that many private companies already offer protections for LGBT individuals. These groups believe that the courts should not interpret the treatment of "sex" within the Title IX law in the same manner as an individual's sexuality. 

College students should be concerned about the DOJ's proposed ruling because LGBTQ+ individuals do not have the same protections in the workplace and the classroom. The Trump Administration is sending a clear message that it does not care about the concerns of LGBTQ+ individuals. The Justice Department's recent stance on LGBTQ+ protections and the transgender military ban has sparked a revived discussion among college students regarding equality for the LGBTQ+ community. 

Lead Image Credit: Phil Roeder via Flickr Creative Commons 

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Diana Pope - University of Tennessee Knoxville

Diana is a political science major who also enjoys journalism, history, and philosophy. She loves writing, researching, and debating about politics. In her free time, she enjoys Grey's anatomy marathons and reading detective fiction.

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