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LGBT added as protected class for federal contractors

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

In a long-anticipated move, President Obama on July 21 amended Executive Order 11246 to prohibit discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has until late October to develop regulations implementing the order.

The order applies to 30,000 companies employing 28 million workers—some 20% of the U.S. workforce.

The regulations will spell out contractor reporting requirements and define the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” The order also calls for affirmative action to hire lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers.

Religious organizations are not exempt from the hiring requirements. How­­ever, the executive order preserves a previous exemption that allows faith-based organizations to refuse to hire those outside their religion “with respect to …work connected with the carrying on by such [a religious entity] of its activities”—that is, clergy members. They will also be exempt from the order’s affirmative action requirements.

The DOL regulations should also clarify whether a new EEO-1 form will be issued asking employers to list how many LGBT workers they employ. The regs will also detail other reporting requirements that might be necessary.

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