Millions of US LGBT workers gain workplace discrimination protection

An Executive Order on LGBT Workplace Discrimination will affect all those working for federal contractors and subcontractors. 

President Obama’s Executive Order on LGBT Workplace Discrimination has now come into effect.

The US President signed the bill last July and it came into effect yesterday (8 April).

It is now forbidden for federal contractors and subcontractors to discriminate on the basis of sexual discrimination or gender identity.

The Center for American Progress reports that the bill will effect 28 million workers – approximately one in five of the US workforce.

Although that number represents the number of people employed by federal contractors and subcontractors, estimates on the actual number of LGBTI people within that workforce differ. Writing an op-ed for the Advocate, Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, says: ‘We’ve estimated that 1.5 million Americans will be protected in the workplace as a result of this executive order.

‘The billions of taxpayer dollars that federal contractors and subcontractors receive to supply goods and services for government agencies will not be used to discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, in addition to race, color, religion, national origin, disability and veteran status, which are already protected.’

Writing on the White House blog, Secretary of Labor, Thomas E. Perez, hailed the Executive Order as a huge step toward equality for LGBT workers.

‘Because of this Executive Order, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people employed by federal contractors across the country will now receive new legal protections designed to ensure they are judged by the quality of their work, not who they are or whom they love.’

‘This is a civil rights victory consistent with our founding principles. It will mean a more dynamic and inclusive workforce that captures the talents of more of our people. It advances the principle that we should be leaving no one on the sidelines, that America is strongest when it fields a full team.’

‘Each year, federal contractors and subcontractors receive billions of taxpayer dollars to supply goods, provide services, and perform construction work for government agencies. In return, they are held to a reasonable standard that they may not discriminate in hiring, firing, pay, promotion, and other employment practices.

‘Equality under the law means equality under the law for everyone. It means giving everyone the chance to go as far as their hard work will take them.

‘Today is an important mile marker on the path to workplace equality, but our efforts are far from finished. We will move with all haste, bringing to bear the full resources of this department to implement and enforce these new protections on behalf of the LGBT Americans who work for federal contractors.’

Please see here for further details.