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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration for recent federal guidelines issued to protect LGBTQ people in the workplace, including a directive that says employees should be allowed to use restrooms, locker rooms and showers that correspond to their gender identity.
The guide also clarifies that the misuse of a person’s preferred pronouns can be considered harassment in certain circumstances.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in the federal district court of North Texas, Paxton, alleges that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it issued a technical assistance document describing the impact of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year. This ruling prohibited discrimination against employers on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Title VII prohibits it discrimination against employees on the grounds of sex.
Defendants in the lawsuit include EEOCs, Commission Chair Charlotte A. Burrows and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The EEOC guide, published on June 15, specifies that employers should not prohibit transgender employees from dressing in line with their gender identity or using bathrooms, changing rooms or showers that are consistent with their gender identity.
In a statement, Paxton called the guide “illegal” and an “unacceptable” attempt to force companies, including the state of Texas, to align with their beliefs.
“If the Biden Administration believes it can force states to meet their political agenda, my office will fight its radical attempt at social change,” Paxton said.
In the lawsuit, Paxton also argued that the EEOC violated the first and eleventh amendments, as well as the Administrative Procedure Act, which specifies how government agencies issue regulations.
The EEOC said in an email on Monday that it does not comment on the pending litigation, but that it will be represented by the Justice Department, which has declined to comment this Monday.
In a statement released in June, Burrows said EEOC appeals recently released following the 2020 Supreme Court ruling in Bostock against Clayton County “will make it easier for people to understand their rights and responsibilities related to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity “.
“Everyone, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, deserves an opportunity to work in an environment free from harassment or any other discrimination,” Burrows said. “The Supreme Court decision in Bostock against Clayton County is a historic milestone that resulted from the struggle, sacrifice and vision of many brave LGBTQ + individuals and allies who had championed civil rights for LGBTQ + communities.” .
Transgender jeans have long been a target of Republican state officials. In 2017, the state legislature tried to pass Senate Bill 6, known as the “Baths Bill,” which would have forced transgender people to use restrooms in public schools, government buildings, and public universities based on their sex assigned at birth. However, the bill did not pass even during a later special session.
During this year’s regular legislative session, lawmakers introduced numerous bills targeting Texan transgender people, including legislation that would restrict the participation of transgender student athletes in school sports and prohibit doctors from providing gender-sensitive medical care. But none of those measures reached Governor Greg Abbott’s desk.
In the three special sessions he has convened since May, Abbott has made it a priority to limit the sporting participation of transgender student athletes. This measure was not approved during the first two special sessions. The third special session of this year began on Monday.
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