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Texas judge rules religious businesses and churches shielded from gay and transgender discrimination liability

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 11/2/2021 Christopher Hutton
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A new ruling from a Texas federal court answered several of the legal questions left open by the 2020 Bostock v. Clayton ruling regarding gay and transgender discrimination.

A Texas judge ruled that for-profit businesses can be shielded from gay and transgender discrimination lawsuits if the person makes employment decisions based on sincerely held beliefs. The ruling comes nearly a year after Bostock v. Clayton, a landmark decision which expanded civil rights protections under Title VII to gay and transgender workers.

"The Court holds that the Religious Business-Type Employer Class, and All Opposing Employer Class, are permitted to create and maintain codes of conduct that regulate the sexual conduct of their employees, to the extent that those policies do not target solely homosexual or transgender activities," wrote U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor.

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Business owner Steve Hotze filed the lawsuit to challenge the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's interpretation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Hotze filed the lawsuit through his own business, Braidwood Management Inc, as well as the Bear Creek Bible Church.

O'Connor also ruled that workplace policies regarding sexual conduct, dress codes, or restrooms do not violate Title VII. However, federal law did regulate policies regarding "bisexual conduct, sex-reassignment surgery, and hormone treatment."

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This ruling fills in gaps left by Bostock v. Clayton, in which the Supreme Court did not specifically address religious defenses for workplace discrimination liability. This sparked debate among legal scholars over the extent to which religious liberty may affect companies' liability.

The EEOC told the Washington Examiner that they are reviewing the decision and have no comment at this time.

Legal representatives for Hotze did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the Washington Examiner.

 

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Tags: News, Title VII, Church, LGBT, Texas

Original Author: Christopher Hutton

Original Location: Texas judge rules religious businesses and churches shielded from gay and transgender discrimination liability

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