The Justice Department announced on Thursday it's expanding its definition of what constitutes unlawful discrimination in the workplace under the 1964 Civil Rights Act to explicitly prohibit discrimination by employers based on gender identity. The decision outlined in a memo from Attorney General Eric Holder reversed a narrower Bush administration interpretation of sex-based discrimination in the workplace.
“That means the Justice Department will be able to bring legal claims on behalf of people who say they've been discriminated against by state and local public employers based on sex identity,” the Associated Press reports. “In defending lawsuits, the federal government also will no longer take the position that Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act, which bans sex discrimination, does not protect against workplace discrimination on the basis of gender status.”
“This important shift will ensure that the protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are extended to those who suffer discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status,” Holder said in a statement. “This will help to foster fair and consistent treatment for all claimants. And it reaffirms the Justice Department’s commitment to protecting the civil rights of all Americans.”