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Eighteen Republican States Try To Block EEOC’s Transgender Protections

The EEOC issued workplace guidance in April to structure its enforcement activities. The revised guidance follows the Supreme Court’s decision recognizing that discrimination against gay and transgender workers is sex-based bias. Under the guidance, the EEOC may take action when employers do not use transgender workers' preferred pronouns and preclude workers from using bathrooms matching their gender identity. Employers must take affirmative steps to accommodate transgender workers.

Eighteen states assert the EEOC has gone beyond its authority and federal law requirements by directing employers to accommodate transgender employees. Consequently, employers will have to change their practices to avoid EEOC complaints and lawsuits. They accuse the EEOC of misusing federal power “to eliminate women’s private spaces and punish the use of biologically-accurate pronouns.” The states also challenge the EEOC's status as an independent agency, claiming it violates the U.S. Constitution. They want U.S. presidents to have the power to remove all the agency's commissioners at will.

Tennessee led the lawsuit, with Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Utah, and West Virginia joining. Most of these states are also challenging a recent EEOC rule extending workplace protections for pregnant or post-partum employees to employees who have abortions.