HR Management & Compliance

Obama plans Executive Order against sexual orientation bias by contractors

by Tammy Binford

Continuing his use of Executive Orders in what’s being called a “year of action,” President Barack Obama plans to sign an order to prohibit federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, according to news reports.

On June 16, news reports quoted a White House official as saying that Obama plans to sign the Executive Order, but the official didn’t say when the president will take the action. The order would make it unlawful for employers that have federal contracts to discriminate in employment decisions based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Obama had hoped Congress would pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would have covered more employers than just those with government contracts. The bill has passed the Senate but not the House.

This year, Obama has already signed Executive Orders in response to inaction by Congress. In February, he announced an Executive Order to raise the minimum wage for workers on federal service and construction contracts to $10.10 per hour. Executive Order 13658 applies to new contracts and replacements for expiring contracts issued on or after January 1, 2015.

In March, Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum instructing Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez to establish new regulations to make more workers eligible for overtime pay. The regulations are expected to cut back on “white-collar” exemptions.