The White House has announced that President Obama will sign an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, a move the White House hopes will pressure Congress into passing legislation banning employment discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in November 2013, but the legislation stalled in the House.
Government contractors already are prohibited from considering race, gender, religion or national origin when hiring employees. This executive order will provide the first specific anti-discrimination protections for the LGBT community and is estimated to apply to approximately 20% of the U.S. workforce (14 million workers). The White House has not indicated when President Obama will sign the executive order and the specific language has not been released, however, the order likely will be in line with current measures banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of race, religion, and national origin.