Attorneys for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press have filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit on behalf of the Washington Blade and one of its reporters to compel the U.S. Department of Labor to release emails the newspaper requested to find out whether government officials tried to undermine regulations intended to protect LGBTQ individuals from employment discrimination.
In a Sept. 15 complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Reporters Committee attorneys argue that the Labor Department violated FOIA by failing to comply with statutory deadlines and withholding agency records in response to a public records request submitted more than a year ago by Chris Johnson, the Washington Blade’s Chief White House reporter.
Johnson’s FOIA request specifically sought email correspondence involving certain Labor Department officials that mentioned the words “religion” or “religious” between January 2017 and August 2019.
According to a Washington Blade press release, the newspaper is seeking the Labor Department’s emails to learn more about a rule change proposed by the Trump administration in August 2019 that would allow federal contractors to make hiring decisions based on their religious beliefs — a change opponents feared may lead to discrimination against LGBTQ workers.
The Washington Blade’s complaint asks the court to order the Labor Department to search its records and immediately disclose all non-exempt records responsive to Johnson’s FOIA request.
The Reporters Committee regularly files friend-of-the-court briefs and its attorneys represent journalists and news organizations pro bono in court cases that involve First Amendment freedoms, the newsgathering rights of journalists and access to public information. Stay up-to-date on our work by signing up for our monthly newsletter and following us on Twitter or Instagram.
Photo by Ed Brown