U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled declared guidelines issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to be unlawful but stopped short of granting the state’s request for injunctive relief.
The EEOC issued the guidance in question on June 15, 2021, one year after the Supreme Court issued its decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which extended protections against workplace discrimination to gay and transgender employees. The EEOC guidance interpreted the Bostock decision to apply to corelated conduct, including allowing transgenders to access the bathrooms of the opposite biological sex.
The HHS issued its guidance on March 2, 2022, in direct response to an order by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to investigate transgender treatments administered to minors. The guidance interprets parts of federal statutes, including the Affordable Care Act, to assert certain federal protections related to transgender treatments. The guidance advised that parents who have been denied transgender treatments or doctors who have been restricted from providing transgender treatments could file a complaint with the HHS Office of Civil Rights.
In September 2021, Texas sued the HHS and EEOC, asking the District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Amarillo to declare both guidances unlawful.
While the issues and laws in disputed were numerous, they boiled down to a dispute on whether protections for gay and transgender people extended to related conduct like pronouns, bathrooms, dress, and transgender health care.
“Plaintiffs reading of Bostock tracks Justice Gorsuch’s words and reasoning: Title VII prohibits employment discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender-identity status—i.e., “being homosexual,” “being transgender”-but not necessarily all correlated conduct,” Kacsmaryk wrote.
Kacsmaryk added: “Though the June 15 Guidance barely passes muster, the March 2 Guidance is
arbitrary and capricious.”
Kacsmaryk was nominated to the federal bench by former U.S. President Donald Trump.
“Kacsmaryk’s ruling stops the EEOC from imposing pronouns and forced acceptance of co-gender bathrooms on all employers that don’t want it, and the fact is most employers don’t want it,” said Jeff Younger, whose 10-year-old son has been at the center of legal proceedings that allow his ex-wife to socialize him as a girl.
“The opinion allows employers to provide these accommodations if they want to, but the government can’t impose it.”
Correction: This article has been revised to accurately reflect the nature of Judge Kacsmaryk’s order.