The final rule implementing President Barack Obama’s Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against employees and applicants based on sexual orientation and gender identity has been published in the December 9 Federal Register.
The rule implements Executive Order 13672, which Obama signed on July 21. The order directed the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to update rules to add gender identity and sexual orientation to classes protected by law. Obama had hoped Congress would pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would have covered more employers than just those with government contracts, but that bill has not passed.
The new rule becomes effective 120 days after its publication, April 4, 2015. A DOL frequently asked questions document explains that the rule will apply to contracts entered into or modified on or after the rule’s effective date. Existing contracts will be affected only if contractors and contracting agencies modify those contracts on or after the new rule is in force.
A DOL announcement says 18 states, Washington, D.C., and many businesses already offer workplace protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered employees, but Obama’s order is the first federal action to ensure LGBT workplace equality in the private sector.