Employment Discrimination Blog

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Executive Order Expanding Protection of LGBT Individuals

For a long time, there was no Federal law specifically protecting lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers from employment discrimination.  Employment discrimination attorneys have spent years trying to fight these cases by squeezing them into other categories, such as sex discrimination.  Now, in specific situations, those affected by employment discrimination based on their LGBT status will have direct recourse.  President Obama has signed an Executive Order making it illegal for the Federal government and Federal contractors to discriminate against employees based on their sexual orientation.

The President actually amended an existing Executive Order that protected the employees of Federal contractors from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.  The amendment adds sexual orientation and gender identity to this list and makes it illegal for Federal contractors to discriminate against employees for this reason.  President Obama has made it clear that he does not want government contracts to be used to discriminate against Americans in this way.  Although he did not include a new provision relating to religious exemptions, he did leave in a provision allowing Federal contractors that are affiliated with a particular religious group to prioritize who they hire based on religion.  These stipulations go into effect sometime next year.  

Also added to the Executive Order is a mandate making it illegal for the Federal government to discriminate against transgender employees.  While past case law has already outlawed this behavior, supporters of the new provision claim that it was never enforced.  This part of the law goes into effect immediately. 

Private employers are not regulated by the new law and it is not applicable to the states.  Some states have already passed legislation to this affect but approximately 32 states are still without it.

Employment discrimination is a continuing problem across the United States.  The Executive Order may make discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity a less frequent occurrence.  If you believe that you have been discriminated against for any reason, contact Pankey & Horlock for free case evaluation.  Call (770)670-6250 today.

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