‘Unlawful hostile work environment’: HHS employees forced to use preferred pronouns, deny biological sex under new policy

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Department of Health and Human Services employees are being forced to address individuals by their preferred pronouns instead of their biological sex due to a new policy introduced this month.

Roger Severino, the vice president of domestic policy at the Heritage Foundation and former director for the HHS Office for Civil Rights, shared earlier this month that the agency initiated a “transgender pronoun mandate,” requiring employees to “deny biological realities with their own words or face firing,” he wrote on X.

“Those with faith objections should immediately request religious accommodation and prepare to fight for your rights,” he added.

Severino shared a screenshot featuring an email from the HHS regarding its new Gender Identity Non-Discrimination and Inclusion Guidance. The email was shared as part of “National Coming Out Day” on October 11.

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“When individuals bring their whole selves to work, all of us at HHS thrive,” the email stated. The agency wants to provide a “welcoming, supportive environment where all employees feel safe and seen, including transgender and non-binary employees.” The policies were put in place to protect “all employees’ gender expressions,” the email added.

The new policy states that calling an individual by their “correct names and pronouns helps foster a workplace free of discrimination and harassment.” Those who address someone by their biological sex could be contributing to unlawful harassment, the guidance claims.

“The isolated and inadvertent use of an incorrect name or pronoun will generally not constitute unlawful harassment,” it stated. “Intentional and repeated use of an incorrect name or pronoun (or both) could, in certain circumstances, contribute to an unlawful hostile work environment.”

Employees who wish to be addressed by pronouns that do not align with their biological sex are not required to legally change their name or gender markers, the policy notes.

The guidance does not state what the consequences are for unlawful harassment. However, Severino claimed it means “resisters will be fired.”

Additionally, the new policy states that employees may use the restroom that corresponds with their chosen gender identity.

“If an employee feels uncomfortable sharing a common restroom facility with gender-diverse employees, the employee expressing discomfort should be advised they may use alternative facilities as available. Employees will not be barred from using the restroom consistent with their gender identity,” it reads.

In a separate post on X, Severino said, “It makes no mention of 1st Amendment rights against compelled speech or of free religious exercise, RFRA, or religious accommodation. The policy covers ‘visitors’ which means anyone who steps foot into an HHS facility or program now has to comply.”

The HHS did not respond to a request for comment, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported.

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