Story at a glance
- Guidelines issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Department of Health and Human Services that protect LGBTQ+ people are “unlawful” because they are based on a misinterpretation of case law, a Texas judge has ruled.
- The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
- The decision states that while Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects workers from being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, it does not protect “correlated conduct.”
Biden administration guidelines designed to protect LGBTQ+ workers and transgender youth are “unlawful” and based on a misinterpretation of case law, a federal judge ruled this week in a lawsuit brought against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
In guidance issued last year, the EEOC clarified that barring transgender workers from using facilities or pronouns consistent with their gender identity constitutes sex discrimination in accordance with the Supreme Court’s 2020 ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, which protects employees from workplace discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Paxton sued the EEOC last September, arguing that states should have the ability to enact their own policies regarding things like bathroom usage. Paxton in his complaint said the guidance was an act of “extreme” federal overreach that puts women and children at risk.
The lawsuit was amended by Paxton in March to include HHS as a defendant after the department released new rules intended to protect access to gender-affirming health care for transgender youth. The HHS guidance was released in response to an order from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) for state agencies to open child abuse investigations into the families of transgender children and an opinion by Paxton that said some forms of gender-affirming medical care amount to abuse under Texas law.
Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump-appointed U.S. district court judge for the Northern District of Texas, has now ruled that the guidance issued by both the EEOC and HHS are “unlawful.”
While Title VII – a portion of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits employment discrimination based on characteristics including sex – prevents employers from discriminating against workers because of sexual orientation or gender identity, it does not protect “correlated conduct,” such as restroom or pronoun usage, Kacsmaryk wrote in the Oct. 1 ruling.
“The Guidances and Defendants misread Bostock by melding ‘status’ and ‘conduct’ into one catchall protected class covering all conduct correlating to ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender
Identity.’ Justice Gorsuch expressly did not do that,” Kacsmaryk wrote, referring to Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s majority opinion in the Bostock case.
The Court in the landmark ruling declined a request made by the plaintiffs to expand the definition of “sex” beyond status to reach a broader scope of conduct, arguing that doing so would not change the outcome of the case.
Paxton on Thursday in a statement released by his office said Kacsmaryk’s decision is not only a win for the rule of law, “but for the safety and protection of Texas children.”
“The Biden Administration’s attempts to radicalize federal law to track its woke political beliefs are beyond dangerous,” Paxton said. “I will continue to push back against these unlawful attempts to use federal agencies to normalize extremist positions that put millions of Texans at risk.”