On July 21, 2014, President Obama signed a new Executive Order (EO) amending EO 11246 to prohibit discrimination against employees and applicants based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Executive Order can be accessed on the White House website at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/07/21/executive-order-further-amendments-executive-order-11478-equal-employmen.
The Executive Order signed by President Obama amends EO 11246 which applies to federal contractors and subcontractors that do over $10,000 in government business in one year. The amendment expands the categories protected by EO 11246 to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The new Executive Order also amends EO 11478, which applies to federal employees. EO 11478 already included sexual orientation. The new Executive Order expands the categories protected by EO11478 to include gender identity. The Secretary of Labor was directed to develop proposed regulations within 90 days.
While EO 11246 now prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, it also calls for covered contractors to take affirmative action to ensure applicants are employed without regard to their sexual orientation and gender identity. It is unclear how covered federal contractors will be required to proceed with affirmative action for applicants and employees without regard to sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Executive Order does not allow for any religious exemption beyond what was added by EO 13279, issued by President George W. Bush, which permits religiously affiliated contractors to favor individuals from a particular religion when making employment decisions. It specifies that EO 11246 “shall not apply to a Government contractor or subcontractor that is a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society, with respect to the employment of individuals of a particular religion to perform work connected with the carrying on by such corporation, association, educational institution, or society of its activities. Such contractors and subcontractors are not exempted or excused from complying with the other requirements contained in this Order.”
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