When President Donald Trump gets angry, he moves his thumbs on his smartphone. His tweets have targeted many, from the media to his own Attorney General. But at 7:55 a.m. Wednesday his target was inexplicable: soldiers who have risked their lives to defend his very right to speak/tweet.
The “United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” thumbed the Commander-in-Chief on his phone (rather than issue a statement or speech). While President Trump tweeted that he made the decision with the “consultation” of military leaders, the Pentagon seemed surprised by the decision.
We expect transgender employees in Minnesota are not only surprised by the decision, but also angry, distraught, and worried about their own employment rights.
We are here to offer some peace of mind.
Minnesota prohibits discrimination on the basis of one’s gender identity. The Minnesota Human Rights Act protects transgender employees under its definition of “sexual orientation,” which includes “having a self-image or identity not traditionally associated with one’s biological maleness of femaleness.” Further, the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul both have ordinances that specifically protect people based on their “gender identity.”
Looking at federal law, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) had concluded transgender employees are protected under the Civil Rights Act of 1964; the EEOC reached this conclusion using the logic that discriminating against someone who is transgender is akin to the law’s prohibition against discriminating “because of sex.” However, the Trump Administration believes the Civil Rights Act does not protect workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Therefore, federal protections remain in question.
Transgender employees still face tremendous challenges, including access to appropriate restrooms and harassment. And under the Trump Administration, it does not appear the federal government will be acting to make life easier.
Questions? We’re here to help and counsel.