Map Shows States Suing Biden Admin Over Trans Worker Laws

A coalition of 18 Republican-led states is suing the federal government over protections for transgender workers.

On Monday, Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti requested a judge block guidelines put forward by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which would hold employers liable if their employees do not have access to bathrooms consistent with their gender identity or are consistently referred to using the gender pronouns with which they do not identify.

The 18 states involved in the legal challenge alongside Tennessee are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.

The Context

Earlier in May, 20 Republican states filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education over protections for transgender students in federally funded schools.

What We Know

The EEOC’s policies require employers to use a transgender employee’s preferred pronouns and allow access to bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity, but the states have argued that this exceeded the Commission’s authority and misinterpreted federal law.

They argue that the new rules unlawfully compel employers to recognize transgender workers’ preferred pronouns and allow them to use restrooms and wear clothing that aligns with their gender identities.

inclusive restroom
Sign for inclusive restroom, with symbol indicating male, female and transgender as well as handicapped symbol, part of LGBT rights initiatives in the Mission District neighborhood of San Francisco, California, July 18, 2019.

Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

The lawsuit asserts that while federal law protects transgender employees from being fired for their gender identity, it does not mandate employers to accommodate them in the ways outlined by the EEOC.

The states contend that these federal guidelines impose undue burdens on businesses and exceed the scope intended by Congress when it comes to anti-discrimination protections under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, regarding discrimination based on sex.

They also argue that the EEOC’s actions represent a significant shift in federal policy without proper legislative backing and could subject employers to unjust legal challenges.

The guidance is said to impose significant new obligations on employers, potentially subjecting them to lawsuits if they fail to comply with these expanded interpretations of discrimination laws.


Skrmetti argued that the EEOC guidelines infringed on areas that should be legislated by Congress, not regulated through administrative action.

“When, as here, a federal agency engages in government over the people instead of government by the people, it undermines the legitimacy of our laws and alienates Americans from our legal system,” he said in a press release. Two words were italicized by the source.

Skrmetti said the EEOC was affectively making law, something he felt “unaccountable commissioners” should not be doing.

Skrmetti did not immediately respond to a request for further comment from Newsweek.

Newsweek emailed the Department of Justice for comment.

Chris Sanders, a spokesperson for the Tennessee Equality Project, a non-profit organization that advocates for the equal rights of LGBTQ+ people in the state, told Newsweek: “Since he has taken office the Attorney General has acted against the rights of LGBTQ people at a staggering rate.

“This latest effort seeks to hamper the ability of the EEOC to make sure that transgender and non-binary people receive the equal protection of the laws, which is their right under the Fourteenth Amendment. People have a right to work in an environment free of discrimination.

“I remain disturbed by this clearly obsessive pattern of trying to block every single policy lifeline extended to LGBTQ people by the federal government.”