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Texas District Judge OKs Some Discrimination Against LGBTQ Individuals

In 2021, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden Administration for its guidelines requiring employers to provide certain protections for LGBTQ workers. Under those rules, Title VII's prohibitions against sex discrimination protected the right of transgender employees to dress and use pronouns and bathrooms consistent with their gender identities. The federal Trump-appointed judge acknowledged that Title VII prohibits employment discrimination against individuals based on sexual orientation or gender identity. However, the judge opined the Biden administration misconstrued the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County. That case held Title VII's provisions against sex discrimination includes discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

However, the judge held that those protections did not "necessarily" extend to "all correlated conduct." Under the judge's ruling, employers are not required to make exceptions for LGBTQ employees regarding policies on bathrooms, dress codes, and locker rooms. In addition, whether employers use the correct pronouns and accept dress and bathroom selection based on gender identity does not fall within Title VII's protections.

The Texas Tribune noted that this judge was known, prior to his appointment, for opposing the expansion or protection of LGBTQ rights. He served as the deputy general counsel for First Liberty Institute, a conservative legal organization. The judge wrote articles opposing protections from discrimination based on an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity. The Biden Administration has not placed its guidance through the regulatory process, which may leave it particularly vulnerable to legal attacks.