Anti-Discrimination Rules Lawsuit Overview:
- Who: Twenty states filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Education, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, US Department of Justice, and related federal leaders.
- Why: The Attorneys General allege the federal agencies and agency heads overstepped and violated states’ rights by “unreasonably interpreting federal antidiscrimination laws.”
- Where: The class action lawsuit was filed in Tennessee federal court.
Twenty states have banded together to sue the US Department of Education, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Department of Justice, and top federal leaders for allegedly overstepping their authority in their attempts to prohibit sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination with new anti-discrimination rules.
The states that have joined the lawsuit include Tennessee, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia. These states are subject to the requirements of Title IX and Title VII because they are employers and home to political subdivisions and other employers and home to and oversee and operate education institutions and programs.
In addition to the federal agencies being sued, US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Chair of the EEOC Charlotte A. Burrows, US Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, and Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Federal Anti-Discrimination Rules Infringe on States’ Title VII, Title IX Policies
The lawsuit centers around the federal agencies’ latest actions surrounding federal Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of or because of sex. For starters, the plaintiffs maintain that under President Joe Biden, the agencies are “unreasonably interpreting federal antidiscrimination laws,” to include matters of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The agencies have issued new anti-discrimination rules that would prohibit educational institutions and other organizations receiving federal funding if they discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This would include “whether employers and schools may maintain sex-separated showers and locker rooms, whether schools must allow biological males to compete on female athletic teams, and whether individuals may be compelled to use another person’s preferred pronouns,” according to court documents, which the states argue is not within the agencies’ authority.
The states in question say they already anti-discrimination rules and policies on sex-separated facilities that conflict with this latest interpretation, but are “in reliance on their understanding that Title IX and Title VII” does not prohibit their actions. The lawsuit claims that these latest actions infringe on states’ rights and abuse funding power that would cost the states “significant federal funds.”
New Anti-Discrimination Rules Misinterpret Title VII, Title IX
The new anti-discrimination rules follow President Biden’s connection of Title VII and Title IX to the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County which stated that terminating an employee “simply for being homosexual or transgender” counts as discrimination under Title VII.
Under the new interpretations, the US Department of Education issued a Fact Sheet that declares it can launch an investigation into a school if the school “prevents a student from joining an athletic team or using the restroom that corresponds to the student’s gender identity, or if a student’s peers decline to use the student’s preferred pronouns.”
Similarly, the EEOC head issued a technical assistance document that declared “requiring transgender employees to use the shower, locker room, or restroom that corresponds to their biological sex, or to adhere to the dress code that corresponds to their biological sex, constitutes discrimination under Title VII.”
The plaintiffs, however, argue that the Supreme Court did not address such issues in Bostock, making the anti-discrimination rules “erroneous.”
The lawsuit demands declaratory judgments that the new anti-discrimination rules are unlawful and that the plaintiffs are not bound by them and prevention of the agencies from enforcing their latest actions. The states also demand declaratory judgments that do not require an employer, employees, or students to use a transgender individual’s preferred pronouns and that allow the states to continue to separate students by biological sex including on athletic teams, regulate usage of facilities based on sex, and maintain dress codes based on biological sex.
What do you think of the new anti-discrimination rules for schools? Let us know in the comments section below!
The plaintiffs are represented by Herbert H. Slatery III, Andrée S. Blumstein, Sarah K. Campbell, Clark L. Hildabrand, Brandon J. Smith, and Matthew D. Cloutier for the State of Tennessee; Steve Marshall and A. Barrett Bowdre for the State of Alabama; Treg R. Taylor and Cori M. Mills for the State of Alaska; Mark Brnovich and Kate B. Sawyer for the State of Arizona; Leslie Rutledge, Nicholas J. Bronni, and Vincent M. Wagner for the State of Arkansas; Christopher M. Carr and Drew F. Waldbeser for the State of Georgia; Lawrence G. Wasden and W. Scott Zanzig for the State of Idaho; Theodore E. Rokita and Thomas M. Fisher for the State of Indiana; Derek Schmidt And Kurtis K. Wiard for the State of Kansas; Daniel Cameron and Marc Manley for the Commonwealth of Kentucky; Eric S. Schmitt and D. John Sauer for the State of Missouri; Austin Knudsen, Davis M.S. Dewhirst, and Christian B. Corrigan for the State of Montana; Douglas J. Peterson and James A. Campbell for the State of Nebraska; Jeff Landry, Elizabeth B. Murrill, and J. Scott St. John for the State of Louisiana; Lynn Fitch and Justin L. Matheny for the State of Mississippi; Dave Yost and Benjamin M. Flowers for the State of Ohio; John M. O’Connor and Zach West for the State of Oklahoma; Alan Wilson and J. Emory Smith, Jr. for the State of South Carolina; Jason R. Ravnsborg for the State of South Dakota; and Patrick Morrisey and Lindsay S. See for the State of West Virginia.
The Anti-Discrimination Rules Lawsuit is The State of Tennessee, et al., v. United States Department of Education, et al., Case No. 3:21-cv-00308, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee Knoxville Division.
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