On July 21, 2014, President Obama issued an executive order amending Executive Order 11246 by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes for federal contractors and subcontractors. Under the amended Executive Order 11246, federal contractors and subcontractors are required to select and employ individuals without regard to sexual orientation and gender identity. Executive Order 11246’s nondiscrimination provisions apply to contractors and subcontractors with over $10,000 in total government contracts and subcontracts in one year. This executive order does not include a religious exemption, which was the subject of negotiation between the White House and religious groups over the past few months. Although the amendments add sexual orientation and gender identity to the discrimination prohibitions under the Executive Order, they do not include any obligation for affirmative action on these bases.
The order takes effect immediately but applies only to government contracts entered into after July 21, 2014. Regulations implementing the Order will be issued within 90 days.
Federal contractors should review their discrimination and harassment policies and modify them to add protections for sexual orientation and gender identity if those protections are not already included. Sexual orientation and gender identity remain outside the protection of federal and Ohio nondiscrimination laws for private employers who are not federal contractors, although they are sometimes covered by local municipal law. The proposed federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (EDNA), which would prohibit discrimination and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity for all private employers (exempting only businesses with less than 15 employees and religious organizations), was passed by the Senate but is stalled in the House.