18 states sue the Biden administration over transgender worker protections.

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18 States Challenge Transgender Protections

States File Lawsuit Against Biden Administration

Eighteen states led by Republicans initiated a lawsuit against the Biden administration, targeting new federal guidelines aimed at safeguarding transgender workers from discrimination. The complaint was lodged against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Justice late on Monday. Spearheaded by Tennessee, the states argue that the newly introduced regulations illegally compel employers to acknowledge the chosen pronouns of transgender employees, as well as their rights to utilize restrooms and dress in accordance with their gender identity.

Allegations of Overstepping Legal Boundaries

The attorneys general assert that these measures by the EEOC improperly extend the scope of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which originally bans discrimination in the workplace based on sex, among other categories. Tennessee’s Attorney General, Jonathan Skrmetti, criticized the guidance in a statement, suggesting that it represents an overreach of federal authority, undermining the constitutional separation of powers. “This EEOC guidance attacks our constitutional separation of powers and shifts from a government by the people to a government over the people, weakening the legitimacy of our laws and distancing Americans from our legal system,” Skrmetti remarked.

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The Role of the EEOC

The EEOC, a bipartisan entity under the Department of Labor, was established by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to implement and enforce anti-discrimination laws in employment. It is governed by five commissioners appointed by the president, with the majority representing the sitting president’s party. According to Skrmetti, the new guidelines misuse federal power by threatening private spaces designated for women and penalizing the recognition of biologically-based pronouns, detrimentally impacting employers in Tennessee.

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Broader Implications and Other Lawsuits

This legal action joins a series of similar lawsuits filed by Republican-led states against various Biden administration policies concerning transgender rights. Earlier in the month, over twenty states challenged the Education Department’s new regulations protecting transgender students in federally funded educational institutions. Moreover, last month witnessed a similar legal challenge against the EEOC’s regulations allowing workers leave for abortion procedures.

The states involved in this lawsuit include Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia. Representatives from the EEOC directed inquiries to the Department of Justice, which has yet to respond to comments on the matter. The EEOC’s guidelines, which integrate recent Supreme Court decisions like the 2020 Bostock v. Clayton County ruling, emphasize that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is a form of sex-based discrimination prohibited under Title VII. However, the attorneys general contest this interpretation, arguing that the Supreme Court did not mandate specific accommodations for gender identity and sexual orientation in the workplace.

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