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July 01, 2016

Sex Discrimination

For the first time in 40 years, the Department of Labor (DOL) has updated the regulations for federal contractors regarding sex discrimination in the workplace to make the regulations consistent with current law. The new final rule, announced June 14, interprets Executive Order 11246, which prohibits any contractor or subcontractor that does more than $10,000 of business in one year with the federal government from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin. The new rule, set to go into effect Aug. 15, lays out explicit protections against compensation discrimination; sexually hostile work environments; discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions; and discrimination based on unlawful sex stereotypes, gender identity and transgender status. In a DOL press release, Patricia A. Shiu, director of the Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs (OFCCP), emphasized the importance of aligning the new regulations “with the realities of today’s workplaces and legal landscapes,” but also said there is “more work that lies ahead to eradicate sex discrimination.” Latifa Lyles, director of the DOL Women’s Bureau, hailed the new regulations, saying that they “will mean that long debunked stereotypes will not keep workers from getting a new job or promotion.” The ABA has long supported eradicating discrimination in the workplace, and sent a letter to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in March urging the enactment of a proposal announced by President Obama to require federal contractors and private companies with 100 or more employees to report pay data by race, gender and ethnicity to the EEOC as a step toward ensuring pay equity.

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