The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released updated workplace guidance ending many protections for women in the workplace.

It is, in essence, a massive rewrite of federal law that has broad and far-reaching consequences for millions of workers across the nation.

Under the guidance, the EEOC will mandate employees be called by their “preferred pronouns.” Employers must also ensure all employees use “preferred pronouns” when referring to their coworkers too – in effect, mandating the speech of millions of Americans, forcing them to use anti-scientific and false language.

The guidance also forces employers to allow “transgender” employees to use whatever bathroom, locker room and shower they prefer and designates “pregnancy” as a basis for workplace harassment claims.

The EEOC released its Enforcement Guidance on Harassment in the Workplace on April 29, 2024, the first time it has updated its guidance in 25 years, according to Reuters. The agency claims the new guidance “will help people feel safe on the job and assist employers in creating respectful workplaces.”

“These laws protect covered employees from harassment based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions; sexual orientation; and gender identity), national origin, disability, age (40 or older) or genetic information,” the EEOC said.

The phrase “pregnancy, or related medical conditions,” is specifically spelled out to include contraction and abortion. The EEOC states: “Sex-based harassment under Title VII includes harassment based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. This can include issues such as lactation; using or not using contraception; or deciding to have, or not to have, an abortion. Harassment based on these issues generally would be covered if it is linked to a targeted individual’s sex including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.”

The agency cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County as a reason for the update of its guidance.

According to the EEOC’s new guidance, “Although accidental misuse of a transgender employee’s name and pronouns does not violate Title VII, intentionally and repeatedly using the wrong name and pronouns to refer to a transgender employee could contribute to an unlawful hostile work environment.”

Additionally, the EEOC decided that “employers may not deny an employee equal access to a bathroom, locker room, or shower that corresponds to the employee’s gender identity.” In other words, men must be permitted to use women’s sex-segregated facilities – and vice versa.

The EEOC was established under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect workers from unjust discrimination. Currently, the agency protects workers from various types of alleged discrimination, including race, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and age.

The Commission is headed by five commissioners who are appointed by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Currently, three commissioners were appointed by Democrat presidents while two were appointed by former Republican President Donald Trump.

A proposed version of the guidance was released by the EEOC on Oct. 2, 2023. By law, the agency must invite the public to comment before finalizing the rule. The comment period ended on Nov. 1, 2023, after which the agency reviewed the approximately 38,000 comments that had been submitted.

The new guidance was approved by a majority vote of the Commission. According to Reuters, “The Democrat-led commission approved the guidance in a 3-2 vote on Friday, with Republican Commissioners Andrea Lucas and Keith Sonderling dissenting.”

Commissioner Lucas released a scathing statement of the EEOC’s decision after the guidance was adopted. She said the agency’s decision will force federal employers and private companies to permit men to access women’s workplace bathrooms, showers, locker rooms, dressing rooms and sleeping facilities.

“Women’s sex-based rights in the workplace are under attack – and from the EEOC, the very federal agency charged with protecting women from sexual harassment and sex-based discrimination at work,” Commissioner Lucas said (emphasis in original). She added,

The Commission’s guidance effectively eliminates single-sex workplace facilities and impinges on women’s (and indeed, all employees’) rights to freedom of speech and belief.

In issuing this guidance, the EEOC ignores biological reality; dismisses the sex-based privacy and safety needs of women; disregards decades of safeguarding principles for women and girls; and fundamentally betrays its mission.

Biological sex is real, and it matters. Sex is binary (male and female) and is immutable.

You can read the commissioner’s full statement below:

The EEOC’s guidance does not provide wholesale exceptions for religious employers like faith-based non-profit organizations or churches.

“Numerous commenters expressed concern about the potential interaction of statutory prohibitions against discrimination, including unlawful harassment, with the religion-based rights of employees and employers,” the agency said, “and they urged the Commission to clarify the interplay between statutory harassment prohibitions and religion-based rights protected under the U.S. Constitution, Title VII (the religious organization exceptions), and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).”

The Commission said it will consider the religion-based rights of employees and employers “as presented on a case-by-case basis.”

It is also “enhancing its administrative procedures and providing information to employers and respondents” in order “to assist employers seeking to assert potential defenses, including religious defenses, in the context of individual charge investigations.”

It remains to be seen whether lawsuits will be filed against the EEOC’s mandate.

The next U.S. president will be tasked with reappointing or replacing four of the five EEOC commissioners. In short, the next presidential election will have a major impact on the direction of the EEOC for years to come.

Related articles and resources:

Christian Employers Alliance Wins Victory Against EEOC and HHS Transgender Mandate

EEOC Proposes to Make Abortion and ‘Misgendering’ Workplace Harassment Claims

EEOC Chair Accused of ‘Sleight of Hand’ in Unilaterally Issuing Misleading Gender Guidelines for Employers

Counseling Consultation & Referrals

Transgender Resources

Addressing Gender Identity with Honesty and Compassion

The Journey Back to My True Identity

What is ‘Gender Identity’

Photo from Getty Images.