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Jul 22, 2014

President Obama signed an Executive Order Monday banning discrimination against LGBT employees by federal contractors.

Last month, I blogged here that the White House had announced that it intended to eventually ban LGBT discrimination by federal contractors through Executive Order because the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), did not make it through Congress.

Since that time, several gay-rights groups withdrew their support for ENDA, fearing that it afforded “religiously affiliated organizations … a blank check to engage in workplace discrimination against LGBT people.”

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, religious groups had pushed the White House to include a religious exemption in the President’s Executive Order. However, the Order will not have a religious exemption.

What the Executive Order does

The Executive Order will amend an existing Executive Order, originally signed by President Lyndon Johnson, which bans discrimination by federal contractors against an enumerated list of protected classes. President Obama’s amendment adds sexual orientation and gender identity to that list.

According to The Huffington Post, this Executive Order affects 24,000 companies employing roughly 28 million workers, or about one-fifth of the nation’s workforce.

Some non-federal contractors may also be covered.

It’s worth noting that many states and municipalities already protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination, regardless of whether their employer’s contract with the government. Most Fortune 500 and 100 companies already have internal rules banning LGBT discrimination.

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

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