Queer DOJ Workers Fear for Their Jobs in Open Letter to Attorney General Barr

"We found a clear and negative impact on employee morale."

After the Trump administration’s most recent anti-LGBTQ crusades at the Supreme Court, queer employees of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) fear their jobs could be in jeopardy.

In a three-page open letter to Attorney General William Barr, members of DOJ Pride, an advocacy group representing thousands of LGBTQ Justice Department employees, expressed serious concerns about the future of their employment at the sprawling agency. The letter—dated November 22 and shared widely on Monday after a Buzzfeed News article detailing its contents was published—revealed that DOJ Pride surveyed its members in the weeks following recent Supreme Court hearings over three LGBTQ workplace discrimination cases.

“We found a clear and negative impact on employee morale,” the group wrote, adding that responses from every employee polled but one “reflected concern, dismay, and even distress about the cases,” and that some reached out to DOJ Pride “in alarm, afraid that their jobs could be in jeopardy”:

Various respondents told us they believe that the Department does not support its LGBTQ workforce, the Department thinks LGBTQ people do not need or deserve anti-discrimination protections, that the Department will be less able to recruit and retain talented employees, that Department employees will be less comfortable coming out at work, and that the Department’s litigation positions set back the Department’s mission of promoting justice, fairness, and equality.

It’s hardly the first time LGBTQ DOJ workers have called upon Barr to address serious concerns about their treatment in the workplace. As NewNowNext previously reported, queer Justice Department employees voiced similar distress in March, with many reportedly quitting their jobs after the department failed to issue an official Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) statement. (Later, Barr did sign a statement affirming discrimination protections for LGBTQ DOJ employees at work.)

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

In its November 22 letter, DOJ Pride urged Barr (pictured above) to reassure Justice Department employees that the agency would retain its EEO nondiscrimination policy “no matter what the Supreme Court decides.”

The group also asked the Attorney General to voice clear support of “laws prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ individuals” in the event that Supreme Court justices adopt an interpretation of federal Title VII protections that doesn’t include queer people.

“As you know, the tone you set at the top reverberates far and wide,” the group added, “so we believe that these actions would have a meaningful, positive impact on the morale of the Department’s LGBTQ employees, and would reinforce that we are not second-class employees at the Justice Department.”

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NewNowNext regarding DOJ Pride’s most recent. This article will be updated if and when the agency responds.

Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Probably drinking iced coffee or getting tattooed.