On June 18, 2014, we reported that President Obama would sign an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. As promised, on July 21, Obama issued the Executive Order. This presidential action amended existing Executive Order 11,246, which applies to federal contractors, by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of classes protected from employment discrimination. This move also amended existing Executive Order 11,478 by explicitly prohibiting gender identity discrimination by federal government agencies for the first time.
The ban on sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, like the general prohibitions on race, sex and religious discrimination under Executive Order 11,246, will apply to any contractor with 10 or more employees. Currently, only 21 states and the District of Columbia prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, with only 17 of those states also banning gender identity discrimination in the workplace. Thus, the President’s action likely will have the largest impact on small federal contractors (those not subject to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) affirmative action and reporting requirements) operating in states where sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are not currently prohibited. These small federal contractors are advised to have a legal professional revise their nondiscrimination policies to be in compliance with this new Order.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the effect of this Executive Order on your business or your current nondiscrimination policy, our attorneys are prepared to answer your questions and/or assist you in drafting a policy that complies with the new requirements.