Texas is suing the Biden administration in an effort to invalidate a federal civil rights directive pertaining to the use of pronouns and bathroom access in the workplace.
The state is challenging an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission advisory that states employers are required to allow LGBTQ employees use the bathroom of their preference. The advisory warns that a failure to adhere to that standard could amount to unlawful harassment.
The EEOC advisory standard is predicated on the Supreme Court’s gay rights decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, in which the court ruled that it is illegal to fire a person for being gay or transgender.
On his first day in the Oval Office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that seeks to implement the Bostock decision’s standard across the federal government, and to protect LGBTQ individuals in an ever wider variety of contexts, including refugee resettlement and housing.
Texas is arguing that the EEOC’s advisory flies far higher than the court’s decisions and violated the First Amendment by forcing employees to use a worker’s preferred pronoun.
“States should be able to choose protection of privacy for their employers over subjective views of gender, and this illegal guidance puts many women and children at risk,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said. “These backdoor attempts to force businesses, including the state of Texas, to align with [EEOC’s] beliefs is unacceptable.”
If the advisory is allowed to hold, some of the state’s agencies could face investigations or lawsuits for upholding what would be viewed as discriminatory practices. The state’s Agriculture Department, for instance, includes the provision that an employee “dressed as a member of the opposite sex” would be in violation of the agency’s dress code policy.
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