Executive Order Bans LGBT Discrimination by Contractors

President Obama signed Executive Order 13672 extending discrimination protections for contractor employees. In addition to amending E.O. 11478 to extend corresponding protections for federal employees, the new EO amends E.O. 11246 to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of categories of contractor employees protected from discrimination. The order also adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of categories of employees for which contractors must take affirmative action to ensure equal employment opportunity. President Johnson issued the initial version of E.O. 11246 in 1965. The order prohibited contractors and federally-assisted construction contractors and subcontractors, with more than $10,000 in government contracts annually, from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. In addition to its nondiscrimination provisions, E.O. 11246 required covered contractors to “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” E.O. 13672 does not contain any exemption for religious organizations beyond that made by President Bush in 2002 with E.O. 13279, which allows religiously affiliated contractors to favor individuals of a particular religion when making employment decisions. Nevertheless, religious organizations that are government contractors subject to the requirements of E.O. 11246 are still required to comply with the other nondiscrimination and affirmative action rules set forth in E.O. 11246.