WASHINGTON — The government is now interpreting federal law to explicitly prohibit workplace discrimination against transgender individuals.


That means the Justice Department will be able to bring claims on behalf of people who say they've been fired by a public employer based on gender identity.

In defending lawsuits, the federal government also will no longer take the position that the Civil Rights Act does not protect against workplace discrimination on the basis of gender status.

The memo released Thursday is part of a broader Obama administration effort to afford workplace protection for transgender employees. In July, President Barack Obama ordered employment protection for gay and transgender employees who work for the U.S. government or for companies holding federal contracts.