On July 21, 2014, President Obama approved and signed an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity — in other words, specifically protecting individuals from LGBT discrimination. “We're on the right side of history,” Obama said at a press conference. “America's federal contractors should not subsidize discrimination against the American people.”
Executive Orders – LGBT discrimination
Two executive orders already protected federal employees on the basis of sexual orientation. Executive Order 11246, Equal Employment Opportunity (1965), signed by President Lyndon B Johnson, barred discrimination by federal contractors on the grounds of race and sex. The second, Executive Order 11478, Equal Employment Opportunity in the Federal Government (1969), signed by Richard Nixon, barred discrimination by the government itself. The amendments put into action by President Obama bar discrimination against transgender federal employees, and add people who identify as LGBT to a list of those against whom federal contractors cannot discriminate. The Order went into effect immediately after signing.
While signing the new Order, President Obama further vowed his commitment to LGBT equality, asserting “we have an obligation to make sure the country we love remains a place where, no matter who you love, you can make it.” The narrowly tailored executive order is seen as a partial victory for gay rights groups. A bill stalled in Congress would offer protection nationally to employees identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, but the bill hasn't moved since November. Further, Obama's action doesn't change a religious exemption put in place in an executive order issued by President George W Bush. Religious entities, such as corporations and schools, can continue to use such convictions as a factor when making employment decisions.
Organizations on each side of the gay rights debate were vocal before the order was signed, in one instance putting faith leaders at odds. Leaders of one such group in favor of the executive order, Barry Curtiss-Lusher and Abraham Foxman, national chair and national director of the Anti-Defamation League, voiced their support of Obama's actions in a public statement, “For nearly 50 years it has been illegal for federal contractors to discriminate in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This action by President Obama continues his historic leadership in promoting LGBT rights and equality and moves our nation closer to full equality in the workplace.”
Know what to do if you've experienced discrimination at work
Always remember that federal and state laws are in place to protect you from sexual discrimination at work. If you believe you have been a victim of sexual discrimination, it's important to know the proper steps to take. In addition to documenting the situation, reporting the incident in writing to your employer and filing a complaint with EEOC or DFEH, you should seek the advice and guidance of an experienced sexual discrimination attorney.
The lawyers with Kingsley & Kingsley located in Los Angeles, California have a wealth of experience fighting for victims of sexual discrimination and harassment. For your free initial consultation, call us toll-free at (888) 500-8469 or click here to contact us and attorney will evaluate your claim.