On July 21, President Barack Obama issued an executive order banning employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity by federal contractors. The order amends two existing executive orders, first by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the classes protected from employment discrimination applicable to federal contractors, and second, by prohibiting gender identity discrimination by federal government agencies. The contractor order is expected to go into effect in early 2015, while the ban on gender identity bias by federal agencies is effective immediately.
The federal contractor provisions of the executive order do not include an exemption allowing religion-affiliated employers to make hiring and other decisions based on workers’ sexual orientation or gender identity.
IMPACT: Contractors operating in states that do not prohibit sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination will need to revise their discrimination policies to comply with the executive order.