Washington Blade: DOJ set to reject LGBT workplace protections

WASHINGTON — The Washington Blade reported yesterday that the U.S. Justice Department under Jeff Sessions is set to file a brief undermining efforts to protect LGBT people under current federal civil rights law.

Although LGBT groups — and a growing number of courts — are taking the view the prohibition on sex discrimination in employment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also bars discrimination against LGBT people, sources say the Justice Department will file a brief in an employment discrimination case before the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals opposing that view.

James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Project, told the Washington Blade the Trump administration filing such a brief would be going out of its way to undermine LGBT rights.

“This would be a gratuitous and extraordinary attack on LGBT people’s civil rights,” Esseks said. “DOJ would be reaching out to offer its opinion on these issues, since they are not a party to this case. That’s not championing LGBT people, it’s working affirmatively to expose us to discrimination. But fortunately, whether the Civil Rights Act protects LGBT people is ultimately a question for the courts to resolve, and not for the attorney general. We are confident that the courts will come to the right decision here.”

The newspaper reported that the department intends to file a friend-of-the-court brief that would affirm the view of the three-judge panel and argue the prohibition of sex discrimination under Title VII doesn’t prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The department may also opportunity to argue Title VII also doesn’t prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.