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Texas Wins Lawsuit Concerning “Woke” Workplace Regulations

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Rear view of people in the pride parade. Group of people on the city street with an LGBTQ rainbow flag. | Image by Jacob Lund, Shutterstock

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In an October 1 ruling that some Texas employers see as a victory, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk shut down the Biden administration’s anti-discrimination practices for LGBTQ employees.

In the case, Kacsmaryk ruled that appropriate anti-discriminatory procedures only needed to extend to hiring and firing, not any further.

Texas, along with 20 other states, has placed on hold the following of federal guidance issued in 2021 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC sought to prevent discrimination regarding promotions, dress codes, and other workplace regulations.

On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court issued a decision on Bostock v. Clayton County, favoring LGBTQ workers and extending Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to sexual orientation and transgenderism.

Essentially, the justices concluded that workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation should be seen as discrimination on the basis of sex as a whole and therefore illegal under Title VII.

The ruling was a significant win for LGBTQ activists, such as plaintiff Gerald Bostock, who was fired after his employer discovered he had joined a gay softball team. Months later, the State of Texas, as represented by Attorney General Ken Paxton, sued to block the federal guidance.

Judge Kacsmaryk ruled that “sex-specific dress, bathroom, pronoun, and healthcare policies” are not required protections under Title VII. Only the “status” of someone’s sexual orientation or gender is to be protected, which covers mainly the hiring and termination of employees.

“The Biden Administration’s attempts to radicalize federal law to track its woke political beliefs are beyond dangerous,” Paxton said. “I will continue to push back against these unlawful attempts to use federal agencies to normalize extremist positions that put millions of Texans at risk.”

The defendants, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the EEOC, have not announced whether they plan to appeal the case.

Brett Sokolow, president of the Association of Title IX Administrators, said that the ruling by Kacsmaryk will likely not stop further rights expansions to transgender and LGBTQ students and workers.

“Can you divide the status of a trans person, or a trans person who pees? It’s inextricably linked to their gender,” Sokolow asked.

Title IX, originally a law preventing sex-based discrimination in federally-funded schools, is seeing a massive regulatory overhaul by the Biden administration.

However, Kacsmaryk’s ruling could impact the effectiveness of the proposed amendments to the law.        

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