Jeff Sessions Issues Religious Exemptions to Nondiscrimination Laws for Businesses

Jeff Sessions
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Jeff Sessions
Jeff Sessions on Religious Freedom. Image via media.gq.com

Last Friday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a directive allowing businesses to discriminate, reports Kevin Johnson for USA Today. The new directive allows employers to disregard federal nondiscrimination laws if they conflict with the individual’s religious beliefs.

In other words, businesses can now openly discriminate against LGBTQ+ individuals in their hiring practices. While Sessions is framing this directive as a way to protect freedom of religion, it falls right into line with other Trump era decisions that protect the religious at the expense of vulnerable communities.

The Trump administration also recently declared its commitment to ensuring that employers don’t have to pay for birth control if they have religious objections to the practice. And just days ago, another Sessions memo stated that federal civil rights laws do not protect transgender individuals in the workplace. He claims that laws banning “sex discrimination” only apply to discrimination against cisgender men and women.

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, believes there is reason for concern.

“When you take into account the transgender directive and this (religious freedom) memo, there seems to be a pattern here. I can see why LGBT employees and others could be concerned about employers in this context.”

Read the USA Today article here.

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