A group of 20 GOP-led states have filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration over recent guidances that said last year’s Supreme Court decision expanding protections against LGBT discrimination in the workplace could also be applied to transgender workers and students when using bathrooms, locker rooms or joining sports teams.
In a complaint filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, the coalition of states, led by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery (R), argued that the Department of Education and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) “issued ‘interpretations’ of federal antidiscrimination law far beyond what the statutory text, regulatory requirements, judicial precedent, and the Constitution permit.”
In 2020, the Supreme Court ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County that the provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex also applies to discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Meanwhile, the court declined to rule specifically on the issue of sex-segregated bathrooms and locker rooms.
However, the Department of Education said in June guidance that its Office for Civil Rights decided that based on the Bostock ruling, the agency's enforcement of Title IX’s prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex could also include sexual orientation and gender identity.
"The Supreme Court has upheld the right for LGBTQ+ people to live and work without fear of harassment, exclusion, and discrimination – and our LGBTQ+ students have the same rights and deserve the same protections,” Education Secretary Miguel CardonaMiguel CardonaThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble Overnight Health Care — Presented by Indivior — CDC panel approves boosters for some, but not based on jobs Education secretary says COVID-19 vaccines should be mandatory for eligible students MORE said at the time.
Additionally, the EEOC said in separate guidance that under the Bostock decision, Title VII would allow transgender workers to use bathrooms of their choice and to dress how they wish based on their gender identity.
Slatery argued against these guidances Monday, noting that federal agencies “simply do not have that authority” to extend the interpretation of a Supreme Court decision.
“But that has not stopped them from trying,” the state attorney general continued. “Even their attempts, as unlawful as they are, did not follow the Administrative Procedures Act.”
“These agencies also have misconstrued the Supreme Court’s Bostock decision by claiming its prohibition of discrimination applies to locker rooms, showers, and bathrooms under Title IX and Title VII and biological men who identify as women competing in women’s sports, when the Supreme Court specifically said it was not deciding those issues in Bostock,” Slatery said.
“All of this, together with the threat of withholding educational funding in the midst of a pandemic, warrants this lawsuit,” he added.
Among the other plaintiffs in the case are attorney generals from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Mississippi, Nebraska and South Carolina, among other states.
The Department of Education told The Hill that it does not comment on pending litigation.
The Hill has also reached out to the EEOC for comment.