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Total Articles: 10

U.S. Department of Justice Rescinds Policy Protecting Transgender Employees

On October 4, 2017, the United States Department of Justice, through Attorney General Jeff Sessions, issued a memorandum rescinding an Obama-era policy protecting transgender employees from employment discrimination pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Feds Say Title VII Doesn't Cover Transgender Workers

Attorney General Jeff Sessions formally reversed the federal government’s position on whether transgender workers are covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, informing all U.S. Attorneys and heads of all federal agencies that the Department of Justice (DOJ) no longer believes that the antidiscrimination statute provides such coverage. The October 4 memo indicates that, according to the DOJ, “Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status.”

Department of Justice Weighs In: Title VII Does Not Prohibit Gender Identity Discrimination

Executive Summary: Whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, transgender status and/or gender expression remains a heated debate in the courts and between government agencies. In the latest development, on October 4, 2017, Attorney General Jeffrey Sessions announced that under his interpretation of Title VII, gender identity and transgender status are not protected. The Justice Department made the same argument with respect to sexual orientation last week at oral argument before the Second Circuit in Zarda v. Altitude Express. This represents a significant departure from the position of the Obama Administration and the current position of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, both of which interpreted Title VII to prohibit such discrimination. It is clear that absent Congressional action, or a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, the issue will continue to be intensely debated.

Department of Justice Releases Memorandum Restricting Transgender Worker Protection under Title VII

On October 4, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed the Department of Justice’s position that gender identity is protected as part of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act’s prohibition against sex discrimination — taking a position that is contrary to current guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Discrimination Due To Breastfeeding: Jury Verdict Upheld in Favor of Police Officer

Affirming that breastfeeding is a medical condition related to pregnancy and that the police department’s conduct violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), a federal appeals court in Atlanta has upheld the jury’s verdict for a former Tuscaloosa, Alabama police officer. Hicks v. City of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, No. 16-13003 (11th Cir. Sept. 7, 2017). Stephanie Hicks was awarded $374,000 in damages against the police department for pregnancy discrimination due to breastfeeding.

DOE Rescinds Prior Guidance on Title IX and Sexual Violence, Issues Interim Advice on Campus Sexual Misconduct

On September 22, 2017, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) rescinded its April 4, 2011 Dear Colleague Letter regarding sexual assault and its April 29, 2014 Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence.1 This is the fourth time the DOE has rescinded guidance regarding Title IX in 2017.2

Lactation = Medical Condition under Federal Law

There are several federal laws with protections for pregnant employees and those employees experiencing complications from birth. Depending on the circumstances, FMLA, ADA and/or the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”) may be triggered. In Hicks v. Tuscaloosa, the Eleventh Circuit ruled on a case involving an employee’s post-pregnancy lactation and need to nurse her newborn.

The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights Withdraws 2011 “Dear Colleague” Letter and 2014 Q&A on Title IX and Sexual Violence.

On Friday, U.S. Department of Education’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Candice Jackson, withdrew the “Dear Colleague Letter on Sexual Violence,” dated April 4, 2011, and the “Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence,” dated April 29, 2014.

U.S. Department of Education Issues New Interim Guidance on Title IX, With New Regulations for Handling Sexual Misconduct Expected to Follow

On September 22, 2017, the United States Department of Education issued new interim guidance applicable to colleges, universities, and school districts pertaining to Title IX and the process for handling allegations of sexual misconduct. This follows United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ earlier indication that the Department of Education would be rescinding the Obama-era Title IX guidance in favor of developing new regulations on the subject after accepting comments from the public. The new interim document, in the form of a “Q&A on Campus Sexual Misconduct,” takes effect immediately, but does not affect any existing resolution agreements between schools and the Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

The Department of Education Withdraws Obama-Era Title IX Guidance, Issues Interim Q&A

On Friday, September 22, 2017, when the Trump administration announced that it was rescinding Obama-era Title IX sexual assault guidance and issuing a new question and answer document while undertaking a formal review, most assumed it meant the previous Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence issued by the U.S. Department of Education on April 29, 2014, had been rescinded. However, many hoped the April 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter (DCL), which set forth requirements that schools investigate and address sexual assault and sexual misconduct, would at least survive in part. However, except for provisions enshrined in the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (the Clery Act), as amended, the press release issued by the Department of Education made it clear that both the April 2014 guidance and the April 2011 DCL had been withdrawn. The press release stated that the department will instead rely on its 2001 Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance, as well as the DCL on Sexual Harassment issued on January 25, 2006.