WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department will now interpret the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as protecting transgender government employees from discrimination, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday.
In a memo, Holder wrote that the "best reading of Title VII's prohibition of sex discrimination is that it encompasses discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status." Holder said that while Congress "may not have had such claims in mind when it enacted Title VII, the Supreme Court has made clear that Title VII must be interpreted according to its plain text."
In a statement, Holder called the move an “important shift" that "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."
The Employment Litigation Section of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act against state and local governments. DOJ does not file suit against private employers for discrimination claims.