Legal

Executive Order Bans LGBT Discrimination by the Federal Contractors and Government

By Jon Hyman

Jul. 22, 2014

Yesterday, President Obama amended two prior Executive Orders, adding new protections against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. Executive Order 11246, which extends anti-discrimination obligations to federal contractors, now also includes prohibitions against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. Executive Order 11478, which already banned sexual orientation discrimination by the federal government, now also includes a prohibition against gender identity discrimination. The provisions affecting federal employees takes effect immediately; those impacting federal contractors will take effect within 90 days, after the Secretary of Labor implements regulations.

Currently, only 18 states prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. These amendments will extend these protections to 28 million federal employees and employees of federal contractors. Thus, if you are a company with federal contracts operating in one of the 32 states without these protections, this executive order will apply to you.
 
It is time for employers to stop invidious discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender employees. According to the White House, 91% of Fortune 500 already prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and 61% already prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. Yet, according to President Obama, “In too many states and in too many workplaces, simply being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender can still be a fireable offense..… I firmly believe that it’s time to address this injustice for every American.” 
 
I agree. It’s incomprehensible and unjustifiable for an employer to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It’s antithetical to what this country stands for — government of the people, by the people, for the people, and justice for all (no matter with whom they happen to go to bed at night). Eventually, Congress will act, pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and make LGBT discrimination a thing of the past. Until then, do right by your employees. Enact policies prohibiting this type of discrimination in your workplace. Send a message that you are an employer of inclusion, and not exclusion.
Jon Hyman is a partner in the Employment & Labor practice at Wickens Herzer Panza. Contact Hyman at JHyman@Wickenslaw.com.

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