U.S. to Update Sex Discrimination Guidelines for Federal Contractors

January 29, 2015

The U.S. Department of Labor is proposing to clarify federal contractors’ requirements to prohibit sex discrimination. The recommended changes would revise the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ guidelines to align with laws, court decisions and societal changes since they were originally issued in 1970, according to the department.

“Our sex discrimination guidelines are woefully out of date and don’t reflect established law or the reality of modern workplaces,” said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu.

The proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register on January 30, and the public will have until March 31 (60 days) to provide comments. The text of the NPRM is available online at www.dol.gov/ofccp/SDNPRM/.

OFCCP’s sex discrimination guidelines implement Executive Order 11246, which prohibits companies with federal contracts and subcontracts from sex discrimination in employment. According to OFCCP, the proposed rule updates these guidelines to reflect demographic developments such as the increased presence of women in the workplace, as well as legal developments — including a Supreme Court ruling recognizing that a sexually hostile work environment is a form of sex discrimination and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which strengthened workplace protections for pregnant women.

The agency’s notice of proposed rulemaking addresses pay discrimination, sexual harassment, failure to provide workplace accommodations for pregnancy and gender identity and family care-giving discrimination.

“A person’s gender should never determine whether or not she gets, keeps or advances in a job,” said Latifa Lyles, director of the department’s Women’s Bureau. “The rule we are proposing will protect workers from losing out on job opportunities because of antiquated stereotypes, nonconformity with gender norms or pregnancy.”

In addition to OFCCP enforces Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. Collectively, these laws require contractors and subcontractors that do business with the federal government to prohibit discrimination and ensure equal opportunity in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and status as a protected veteran.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor

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