Trump's Civil Rights Nominee Has Long Anti-Civil Rights History

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Trump's Civil Rights Nominee Has Long Anti-Civil Rights History

Eric Dreiband, slated for key role at Justice Department, has defended several companies in anti-workplace discrimination court cases

President Trump's pick to lead the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has a long history of defending discrimination against Americans based on age, religion and other factors. (Photo: J.C.A./Flickr/cc)

The ACLU and other civil rights advocates are denouncing the White House's nominee to head the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

If approved by the Senate, Eric Dreiband's appointment would continue the Trump administration's well-established pattern of filling high-level jobs with officials whose background either offers no experience related to the position, or directly goes against the job's supposed mission.

Dreiband worked in the George W. Bush administration before joining the law firm Jones Day, where he's repeatedly represented companies that sought to discriminate against employees.

"With a history of restricting civil rights, Drieband's record must be thoroughly examined and weighed for his fitness to serve in the position that is supposed to advocate for the rights of all Americans."—Jesselyn McCurdy, ACLU

Dreiband argued on behalf of a tobacco company that systematically rejected job applicants over the age of 40, and represented the clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch when it was sued for refusing to hire a Muslim teenager because she wore a head scarf.

He represented Bloomberg when 65 employees filed a class-action suit alleging that the company discriminated against mothers and pregnant women in its ranks by demoting them and reducing their pay. In 2016, Dreiband defended the University of North Carolina when it supported a law to restrict transgender students' access to the bathrooms of their choice.

Dreiband also co-wrote an article in Forbes magazine in 2013 opposing the "ban the box" movement, which seeks to keep companies from asking about a job applicant's criminal record when they initially apply for a job. "Ban the box" advocates argue that applicants should have an opportunity to display their qualifications before disclosing their conviction history, while Dreiband wrote, "if the government is entitled to have law-abiding workers, then surely private employers are as well."

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Jesselyn McCurdy, deputy director of the ACLU's legislative office in Washington, responded to the appointment.

Dreiband has made a career going against women and LGBT rights...With a history of restricting civil rights, Drieband's record must be thoroughly examined and weighed for his fitness to serve in the position that is supposed to advocate for the rights of all Americans, regardless of their background. We will watch Dreiband closely, and urge senators to ask the tough questions during his confirmation process.

The announcement of Dreiband's nomination came on the same day that the Trump administration named their pick for the new senior advisor for women's empowerment in USAID's Office of Gender Equality and Women's Advancement. Similarly to Dreiband, the nominee, Bethany Kozma, has a history of backing pro-discrimination efforts, including launching a campaign to restrict bathroom access for transgender students in public schools.

In the past, USAID has supported access to housing, healthcare, and jobs in countries around the world, and the agency insists this wouldn't change in a statement that was at odds with Kozma's background. "USAID is committed to promoting a work environment that is free from sexual-orientation and gender-identity discrimination, in accordance with existing federal law," a spokesperson said.

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