Photo: Ken Cedeno/Corbis via Getty Images

The Department of Justice told the Supreme Court in a brief Wednesday that federal law does not shield transgender workers from discrimination on the basis of their gender identity — a position that conflicts the view of the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission.

The big picture: The Justice Department under President Trump has previously argued against protections for gender identity and sexual orientation. The brief follows a New York Times report this week that said the Trump administration plans to define "gender" as biological and fixed at birth.

The details: A conservative group is asking the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling that said a Michigan funeral home violated a federal anti-discrimination law when it fired a transgender worker over compliance with its dress code.

  • Solicitor General Noel Francisco told the court it should not take up the case until it decides whether to review two cases that ask whether sexual-orientation bias is a form of sex discrimination.
  • Francisco argued that if the court takes up the case, the transgender employee should lose, because anti-discrimination law does not cover gender identity.

The backdrop: There has been conservative legal efforts to cement “religious liberty” laws that would allow businesses and others to refuse service to LGBTQ people without violating federal law.

  • The Supreme Court is eventually expected to decide whether the Civil Rights Act’s ban on sex discrimination includes discrimination based on someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Go deeper

U.S. economy added 4.8 million jobs in June

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added 4.8 million jobs last month, while the unemployment rate dropped to 11.1% from 13.3% in May, according to government data released Thursday.

The state of play: While the labor market showed more signs of recovery when the government’s survey period ended in early June, the lag means that more recent developments, like the surge in coronavirus cases and resultant closures in some states, aren't captured in this data.

1.4 million Americans filed for unemployment last week

Photo: Wang Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Another 1.4 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, the Department of Labor announced Thursday.

Why it matters: New applications for unemployment remain historically high, suggesting layoffs are still widely prevalent. However, they remain well below the all-time record seen when the coronavirus pandemic first hit.

The crushing budget blow awaiting state and local government workers

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

State and local government jobs are being gutted, even as the labor market shows signs of a slight recovery.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic blew a hole in state and local government budgets. A slew of states cut spending and jobs — with more planned layoffs announced this week as states try to balance budgets.