On July 21, President Obama signed an executive order (EO) prohibiting federal and federally assisted contractors and their subcontractors from engaging in employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The newly signed EO amends EO 11246. President Lyndon Johnson originally signed EO 11246, which prohibits contractors with federal and federally-assisted construction contracts that exceed $10,000 and their subcontractors from discriminating against any employee or applicant for employment based on race, creed, color, sex or national origin. As such, government contractors have long known about and should be familiar with the requirements to comply with EO 11246, which require filing of compliance reports. The new EO simply amends EO 11246 to include sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of classes protected from employment discrimination. It is unclear at this time whether the new EO imposes new affirmative action obligations.
The new EO will become effective on or after the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issues a final rule. DOL is charged with preparing regulations within 90 days, which would be sometime in late October. The EO will apply only to new contracts entered into on or after DOL issues a final rule. AGC will monitor the rulemaking process and provide updates as appropriate.