Health and Human Services implements policy that will punish employees for using wrong pronouns

The following includes content that is editorial in nature and expresses the opinion of the writer. 

It’s all about priorities. The Biden administration, via the Department of Health and Human Services, has implemented a new gender pronoun policy which, according to one Heritage Foundation expert and former HHS official, violates employee rights and will result in workers being fired for “misgendering,” Fox News reports. Meanwhile, the world is on the verge of World War III. 

“HHS and the federal government is requiring its employees to speak falsehoods,” Roger Severino, vice president for domestic policy for the Heritage Foundation who also served as the head of civil rights at HHS during the Trump administration, told Fox News Digital. 

The story was first broken by Severino on “X” last week, writing that HHS “imposed a transgender pronoun mandate on its employees who will now be forced to deny biological realities within their own words of face firing,” while including a screenshot of an email sent to HHS employees. 

In speaking to Fox News Digital, Severino noted the First Amendment protects federal employees from being required to intentionally speak falsehoods, being compelled to adopt a state-approved ideology, and directing people to deny their faith. 

“These policies would require all of those things,” Severino, a Harvard Law School graduate, said.

The email says:

“All employees should be addressed [by] the names and pronouns they use to describe themselves,” the department stated as part of its program for “Gender Identity and Non-Discrimination Guidance,” which it claims protects “employee rights and protections related to gender identity.” 

The push came, Severino said, via two White House executive orders, one dated January 2021 and the other in June 2022, that were identified as ways to battle “gender discrimination” based on “gender identity.” 

“All applicants and employees should be addressed by the names and pronouns they use to describe themselves. Using correct names and pronouns help foster workplaces free of discrimination and harassment,” the Office of Personnel Management guidance states. 

“This practice also creates an inclusive work environment where all applicants and employees are treated with dignity. The isolated and inadvertent use of an incorrect name or pronoun will generally not constitute unlawful harassment, but, as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has explained, continued intentional use of an incorrect name or pronoun (or both) could, in certain circumstances, contribute to an unlawful hostile work environment.” 

The email linked to an unlisted YouTube video features confused Assistant HHS Secretary Rachel (Richard) Levine, a man who pretends to be a woman and says, “Who you know yourself to be is valid.” 

According to Levine, if someone thinks they are a cat or a dog, that is a valid identity. 

Severino told Fox News Digital that the policy, in effect, was “Orwellian” in nature and would mean the sin of “misgendering” someone would qualify as a violation of anti-discrimination law, leading to termination. 

The video also invites employees to “wear clothing” and “use restrooms” based on what the flavor of the day is regarding their chosen gender. 

Severino said, “Men who identify as female have the right to get naked in front of female colleagues in the locker room,” explaining how the rule applies to HHS locker rooms and bathrooms. 

“It used to be that if you allowed a man to get naked in front of a woman in the workplace, that is instantly a violation of civil rights law,” Severino explained. “That’s the quintessential hostile work environment, subjecting women to that. Now, the policy says to the women who may be uncomfortable with that situation, they’re the ones who have to leave.” 

Severino called it “breathtaking” that the administration would unveil this policy at this time, noting there are “strong arguments” that employees have legal recourse against policies like this and can “exercise their rights.” 

“Governments cannot compel speech and certainly cannot compel false speech,” Severino reminded Fox, noting a case called West Virginia v. Barnette, in which even though children being told to say the pledge of allegiance during World War II was a “good thing,” the Supreme Court ruled that parents and students are allowed and have the right to dissent from that view. 

“We protect the right of political dissent, and here it’s a pledge of allegiance to the Rainbow Flagg that’s been essentially required,” Severino argued. 

He also noted that employees have a “right to their faith” and “your boss cannot force you to deny your faith as a condition of working there.” 

Any policies that force employees to deny gender reality or otherwise go against their religious beliefs harm morale and production, and current government employees have related that to him. 

“They are faced with a horrible dilemma,” Severino said, noting that people have a choice to “fly under the radar” and “avoid the issue and keep a low profile” while hiding their faith to keep their job. Conversely, he said, “They can stand up and say this policy is wrong and fight” for their rights. If they do so, he warned, they could “see a gigantic target on their back” afterward. 

Neither the White House nor HHS responded to Fox News Digital’s request for comment. 

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