Lisa Keen | Keen News Service
lisakeen@mac.com

President Trump on Monday, March 27, signed what Lambda Legal calls a “very disturbing” order giving federal contractors a large loophole through which to discriminate against LGBT people.

The White House released a copy of the executive order, signed by Trump, on Monday afternoon. The order revokes all or part of three previous executive orders concerning federal contracting.

Of greatest concern to LGBT people, Trump’s executive order revoked President Obama’s 2014 Executive Order 13673, the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order, that required that companies receiving large federal contracts be able to demonstrate that they have complied for at least three years with 14 federal laws, several of which prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender stereotyping or gender identity.

By taking away the requirement that federal contractors be able to demonstrate that they have not violated these federal laws, according to Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Camilla Taylor, “this administration has made it extremely difficult to enforce these federal laws as applied to federal contractors.”

“It’s sending a message to these companies…that the federal government simply doesn’t care whether or not they violate the law,” Taylor said.

Among those 14 laws implicated are Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Title VII prohibits discrimination based on sex in employment. Under the Obama administration, the Department of Justice and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission argued that discrimination based on “sex” included discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The ADA and Rehabilitation Act prohibit discrimination based on HIV infection and other disabilities. And the Family and Medical Leave Act, under the Obama Department of Labor, was held to include employees caring for a same-sex spouse, even if the employee lived in a state that did not recognize marriage of same-sex couples.

The 14 affected federal laws and regulations affected by the new Trump executive order also includes Executive Order 11246, signed in 1965 by President Johnson, which prohibited federal contractors from discriminating in employment based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Four years later, President Nixon added discrimination based on disability and age.

In 1998, President Clinton added sexual orientation. And in 2014, President Obama added gender identity, plus prohibited federal contractors, too, from discriminating against their employees based on these categories.

President Obama’s signing of what was called Executive Order 13672 was hailed by many LGBT activists as protecting “millions” of LGBT workers from discrimination. It applied to companies who sought federal contracts in excess of $500,000.

Taylor said that companies seeking such contracts had to demonstrate that they had not violated the federal laws listed in the previous three years. And federal agencies could not award contracts to such companies unless the companies were able to “explain mitigating factors.”

Taylor said “the substance of the laws are still there” and Lambda would do everything it can to “make sure companies understand their obligation not to discriminate.”

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