President Obama signing order to prohibit discrimination

Frank S. Clowney III

California LGBT employees and other employees throughout the country may be receiving some additionally recognized rights, thanks to a new executive order that is slated for President Obama’s signature. The new order will prohibit federal contractors from discrimination against individuals due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

A White House official said that the action would supplement existing protections that are provided in federal contracts that prohibit against employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion or sex. President Obama had been pushing for a broader law, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit discrimination against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity for workers besides federal contractors. Although the bill was passed by the Senate, the House has refused to consider it.

Advocates for LGBT equality expressed appreciation for the action while noting that it was long overdue. They also urged the President not to include religious exemptions that would allow organizations to bypass the new order. As the order stands, about 16.5 million federal workers will be protected by an order of this nature. This step was taken in light of research that indicates that about 21 percent of LGBT employees have faced workplace discrimination in the past. It is also in line with existing corporate policy as 43 of the major 50 federal contractors already have sexual orientation as part of their non-discrimination employment practice.

As the scope of recognized rights for LGBT workers continues to evolve, individuals who believe that they have been discriminated on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity may wish to consult with an employment law attorney. The attorney can outline the various statutory protections and remedies that are available.

Source: The Washington Post, “Obama to sign order prohibiting contractors from discriminating against LGBT people“, Zachary Goldfarb, June 16, 2014