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Executive Order Extends Workplace Anti-Discrimination Protections to LGBT Workers of Federal Contractors

Though it took longer than expected, President Barack Obama has signed an Executive Order extending protections against workplace discrimination to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (“LGBT”) community. Signed July 21, 2014, the Executive Order prohibits discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, adding to the list of protected categories. It does not contain any exemptions for religiously affiliated federal contractors, as some had hoped. Religiously affiliated federal contractors still may favor individuals of a particular religion when making employment decisions.

The President directed the Secretary of Labor to prepare regulations within 90 days (by October 19, 2014) implementing the new requirements as they relate to federal contractors under Executive Order 11246, which requires covered government contractors and subcontractors to undertake affirmative action to ensure that equal employment opportunity is afforded in all aspects of their employment processes. Executive Order 11246 is enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).

The Executive Order will apply to federal contracts entered into on or after the effective date of the forthcoming regulations. OFCCP likely will be charged with enforcement authority.

We recommend that employers who will be impacted by this Executive Order review their equal employment opportunity and harassment policies for compliance with the Executive Order. For example, employers who are government contractors should add both sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories under these policies and ensure that mechanisms are put in place to ensure that discrimination is not tolerated against LGBT employees. 

We will provide additional information and insights into the proposed regulations when they are available.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2018

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About this Author

Eric J. Felsberg, Jackson Lewis, Employment Issues Lawyer, affirmative action compliance attorney
Principal

Eric J. Felsberg is a Principal in the Long Island, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He provides training and daily counsel to employers in various industries on day-to-day employment issues and all aspects of federal, state, and local affirmative action compliance.

Mr. Felsberg is a practice resource on the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ (OFCCP) Internet Applicant Final Rule and Compensation Guidelines. Furthermore, Mr. Felsberg works closely with firm clients to prepare affirmative action plans for...

631-247-4640
Michelle E. Phillips, Jackson Lewis Law Firm, Labor Employment Attorney
Principal

Michelle E. Phillips is a Principal in the White Plains, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She handles various types of employment litigation, with an emphasis on sexual harassment matters.

Ms. Phillips also counsels clients on a variety of labor and employment matters concerning federal and state employment laws. She frequently conducts and advises clients on internal investigations and leads employment discrimination and sexual harassment seminars and in-house diversity training programs for clients.

914-328-0404