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OFCCP Publishes Proposal to Rescind Religious Exemption Rule

As a follow up to yesterday’s announcement, OFCCP published its proposal to rescind the “Implementing Legal Requirements Regarding the Equal Employment Opportunity Clause’s Religious Exemption” rule (the “Religious Exemption Rule”) today. The Religious Exemption Rule expanded the existing exemption on religious entities’ compliance with the anti-discrimination provisions of Executive Order 11246.

OFCCP contends that the Religious Exemption Rule, which was enacted during the prior administration, “create[d] a lack of clarity regarding the scope and application of the exemption because… it misstate[d] the law in key respects.” In its proposal, OFCCP lists a number of ways in which the Religious Exemption Rule departs from Title VII principles and “long-standing policy” regarding equal employment opportunity. OFCCP reasons that these inconsistencies “likely … increase[d] rather than decrease[d] confusion about the application of the Executive Order 11246 religious exemption.”

The OFCCP further explains that it will not be modifying or replacing the Religious Exemption Rule because it “has no effect on the overwhelming majority of federal contractors” – only impacting those that meet the statutory definition of a “religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society” – and therefore, in the agency’s view, “is unnecessary.” Instead, the agency will revert to its previous approach of interpreting applicable “Title VII principles and applicable law.” OFCCP acknowledged that while there is a lack of uniformity among courts in the approach they use in religious exemption cases, relevant Title VII factors are clearly identified and should be weighed as a balancing test on a case-by-case basis.

Comments on the proposal can be submitted through December 9, 2021.

© 2022 Proskauer Rose LLP. National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 313
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About this Author

Guy Brenner, Labor Attorney, Proskauer Rose, arbitration proceedings Lawyer
Partner

Guy Brenner is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the Non-Compete & Trade Secrets Group. He has extensive experience representing employers in both single-plaintiff and class action matters, as well as in arbitration proceedings. He also regularly assists federal government contractors with the many special employment-related compliance challenges they face.

Guy represents employers in all aspects of employment and labor litigation and counseling, with an emphasis on non-compete and trade secrets issues,...

202-416-6830
Megan Childs Labor Lawyer Proskauer Law Firm
Associate

Megan Childs is an associate in the Labor Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group. 

212-969-3126
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