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Rule Bans Gender Bias by Contractors

Friday, December 5, 2014

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Sexual orientation and gender identity will now be protected in the U.S. contracting workforce, under a new federal discrimination rule announced Wednesday (Dec. 3).

The Final Rule is the first federal action to ensure LGBT workplace equality in the private sector, but the measure echoes many already in effect throughout the public and private sectors.

The District of Columbia and 18 states, as well as many businesses, have similar measures in place.

Bill signing
White House via YouTube

The new rule extends equal-employment protections signed in July by President Obama to discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.

Of the 50 largest federal contractors, which represent nearly half of all federal contracting dollars, 86 percent prohibit sexual orientation discrimination and 61 percent prohibit discrimination based on gender identity, according to DOL.

In addition, the five top federal contractors, which receive nearly a quarter of all federal contracting dollars, already bar discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity, the agency says.

Expanding Equal Opportunity

The new rule implements Executive Order 13672, a July 2014 amendment to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs' (OFCCP)  Executive Order 11246 of 1965.

EO 112346 established equal employment protections in the federal government and among its contractors and subcontractors. EO13672 tasked DOL with extending those protections to gender identity and sexual orientation.

"No current federal law adequately protects lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) workers from employment discrimination," the White House says in a Fact Sheet on the new rule.

DOL Secy Thos Perez
Department of Labor

Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said the measure reflected "fairness and opportunity."

"This is completely contrary to our values as Americans—and it’s also bad for business. ..."

"American workers should be judged by one thing only: their ability to get the job done."

120 Days

The final rule will become effective 120 days after its publication in the Federal Register and will apply to federal contracts entered into or modified on or after that date.

"This rule will extend protections to millions of workers who are employed by or seek jobs with federal contractors and subcontractors, ensuring that sexual orientation and gender identity are never used as justification for workplace discrimination by those that profit from taxpayer dollars," said Patricia A. Shiu, director of the contracting compliance office, which will enforce the new requirements.

Patricia A. Shiu
Department of Labor

Patricia A. Shiu's Office of Federal Contracting Compliance Programs will enforce the rule, which she said would protect millions of workers.

DOL has scheduled a one-hour technical assistance webinar at 2 p.m. ET Dec. 5 and Dec. 9 to explain the rule to federal contractors and subcontractors.

Details about compliance, terms, implementation and other issues are available in an FAQ page compiled by DOL. More information is also available at OFCCP's website and via a toll-free helpline at 800-397-6251.

'Fairness and Opportunity'

"Americans believe in fairness and opportunity," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez.

"No one should live in fear of being fired or passed over or discriminated against at work simply because of who they are or who they love."


Tagged categories: Contractors; Enforcement; Good Technical Practice; Government contracts; Laws and litigation; North America; Subcontractors; Workers

Comment from jim dolan, (12/8/2014, 11:46 AM)

Now there's another law that has been sorely needed forever. I hope the OFCCP's website is as easy to use! I understand the webmaster for Obamacare's web site is looking for employment.

Comment from Rodney White, (12/9/2014, 9:35 AM)

Yet another example of creating a crisis where none exists. Seems the administration's answer (to the question not being asked) is to "protect" yet another class of voters. In the White House's own words: "American workers should be judged by one thing only: their ability to get the job done." Whatever happened to simply hiring the most qualified individual for the position's requirements? Nowadays, that practice will land you in hot water. Next thing we will see will be quotas; if you have 100 folks working, there must be 30 African-Americans, 20 Asian-Americans, 20 Hispanics, 30 Women, 10 Transgender, 10 Gay, 10 Lesbian, and 1 Undecided. Wait, that's a 131 people where only 100 are needed...Oh, I forgot- because we have to provide healthcare for all full time employees, we designate all 131 as part time so we can stay in business....

Comment from Paul Braun, (12/10/2014, 8:01 AM)

what is there about "American workers should be judged by one thing only: their ability to get the job done." is offensive? There are states in which it is perfectly legal to deny LGBT citizens the rights that "everyone else" enjoys. Many of these states see no irony in accepting government contracts (a portion of which the same discriminated class has paid for), and then denying citizens equal protection. We have been through this denial of equal protection before in many of the same states as the (losing) fight is is still being fought. Maybe a little empathy may be in order here. if that's too difficult, look at the history, and if that's too much, suck it up and consider that those same laws may just protect your family someday

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (12/10/2014, 8:06 AM)

Rodney, all this action does is to ask for more people to be judged by whether they are the most qualified for the position or not. I think it would be simpler to just state it that way - but that's not the world we live in yet. On the job, I don't care whether someone is black, brown, red, purple, disabled, male, female, trans, oriented differently or a host of other irrelevant personal qualities. Here's what matters: Do they do their job right or not? "Right" includes teamwork if needed. If the other team members are prejudiced against a blue-skinned person, that's on them - not the person who happens to be blue.

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