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Federal Court Blocks Enforcement of EEOC Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Guidance

August 03, 2022

In June 2021, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued resources on workplace protections for LGBTQ+ employees, including a technical assistance document entitled “Protections Against Employment Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity." A federal district court has now blocked enforcement of that guidance. Among other things, the guidance took the following rather aggressive positions: employers cannot require a transgender employee to dress in accordance with the employee’s sex assigned at birth; employers may not deny an employee equal access to a bathroom, locker room, or shower that corresponds to the employee’s gender identity; and use of pronouns or names that are inconsistent with an individual’s gender identity could be considered harassment. In issuing the guidance, the EEOC asserted that it was explaining the Supreme Court’s decision inBostock v. Clayton County, which held that Title VII’s protections against sex discrimination encompass sexual orientation and transgender status; however, the court found that the guidance extends far beyond the limited reach of theBostockdecision, in which the Supreme Court specifically “refused to decide whether ‘sex-segregated bathrooms, locker rooms, and dress codes’ violate Title VII.”