State Watch

Texas sues Biden administration over guidance on transgender worker rights

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) on Monday sued the Biden administration over guidance it released in June requiring employers to offer certain protections to transgender workers.

Paxton’s lawsuit — which names Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Chairwoman Charlotte Burrows and Attorney General Merrick Garland as defendants — asks for declaratory and injunctive relief against the enforcement of the June guidance, which it says is “unlawful.”

The EEOC released guidance in June that said employers are not allowed to stop transgender employees from dressing in a way that is consistent with their gender identity and said employers cannot deny transgender individuals from accessing bathrooms, locker rooms or showers that correspond with their gender identity.

It also says using incorrect pronouns or names that are inconsistent with someone’s gender identity can be considered harassment in certain circumstances.

The guidance was based on a June 2020 decision from the Supreme Court — Bostock v. Clayton County — which said the prohibition against sex discrimination that is included in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes employment discrimination against an individual based on sexual orientation or transgender status.

Paxton argues that the EEOC violated Title VII when it issued a technical assistance document last year that discussed the impact of the Bostock ruling, according to The Texas Tribune.

Paxton wrote in the lawsuit that the guidance “misstates the law, increasing the scope of liability for the State in its capacity as an employer,” adding that Burrows “did not even have authority to issue it.”

“States should be able to choose protection of privacy for their employers over subjective views of gender, and this illegal guidance puts many women and children at risk,” Paxton said in a statement.

“If the Biden Administration thinks they can force states to comply with their political agenda, my office will fight against their radical attempt at social change. These backdoor attempts to force businesses, including the State of Texas, to align with their beliefs is unacceptable,” he added.

The lawsuit comes after a group of 20 GOP-led states filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration last month over guidance that said the Bostock decision could also be applied to transgender workers and students when using bathrooms, locker rooms or joining sports teams.

That legal action — led by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery (R), said the EEOC “issued ‘interpretations’ of federal antidiscrimination law far beyond what the statutory text, regulatory requirements, judicial precedent, and the Constitution permit.”

When reached by The Hill, the EEOC declined to comment, citing pending litigation. The Hill reached out to Garland for comment.

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