February 2, 2012 | by Chris Johnson
DynCorp adopts LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policy

A military contractor that has come under fire for allegedly allowing anti-gay harassment on the job has changed its policy to include non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

DynCorp International LLC, a military contractor and aircraft maintenance company in Fairfax, Va., updated its non-discrimation policy last month to include protections for LGBT workers, according to a company spokesperson.

Ashley Burke, a DynCorp spokesperson, said, “In keeping with our goals of maintaining a positive, supportive work environment, a number of our internal policies and our Code of Ethics and Business Conduct were updated and strengthened in January.”

The company’s code of ethics and business conduct details the change on its second page under a heading for guidelines governing daily workplace behavior. A previous version of this guidance lacked the words sexual orientation and gender identity.

“We offer equal employment opportunities and encourage workplace diversity and make employment decisions without regard to race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, veteran status, marital status, ancestry, genetic information, disability, or any status protected by federal, state, local or host country law,” the new guidance states.

DynCorp came under pressure to change its policy after the Washington Blade reported last month on a settlement the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reached with the company as a result of a complaint was filed on alleged anti-gay harassment on the job.

A straight employee at the company, James Friso, was allegedly harassed in 2006 based on his perceived sexual orientation while on post at Taji, Iraq. According to the EEOC complaint, one of Friso’s male co-workers allegedly called Friso “faggot,” “dick-sucker,” and “queer” on a daily basis. When Friso allegedly complained the company did nothing and sent him to another post with lower pay in Mannheim, Germany. The company has denied any wrongdoing.

As a result of the EEOC settlement, Friso was awarded $155,000, but the contractor wasn’t required to change its non-discrimination policy to include protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Freedom to Work, an LGBT workplace advocacy group, launched an online petition last month urging DynCorp to change its policy to include LGBT protections. As of Thursday, the petition had 54,878 signatures.

Tico Almeida, Freedom to Work’s president, commended DynCorp for updating the policy and said it represents a positive change for a company.

“DynCorp has an ugly history of sex trafficking committed against young girls, racial discrimination against African-Americans, and most recently a hostile work environment with anti-gay epithets like ‘faggot’ and ‘queer’ used on a daily basis,” Almeida said. “I’m very glad to know they’ve seen the error of their ways and have listened to the call of almost 55,000 Americans who signed the Freedom to Work petition on Change.org in the last two weeks asking DynCorp to add sexual orientation and gender identity to their non-discrimination policy. That change was long overdue.”

Almedia noted that DynCorp is now in line with leading military contractors like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman, which he said added LGBT protections to their policies years ago.

“Those top government contractors realize that discrimination is bad for the bottom line – and a waste of our taxpayer money,” Almeida added.

Freedom to Work had been drawing attention to the alleged anti-gay practices of DynCorp and its previous lack of LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policy to prompt action from the White House. The group, as well as other advocates, have been pushing President Obama to issue an executive order barring federal dollars from going to contractors without non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

DynCorp receives more than 96 percent of its revenue from federal contracts that amount to $2 billion each year, making it the 32nd largest federal contractor, according to Freedom to Work.

Almeida said DynCorp’s ability to change its policy demonstrates that other companies could follow suit if Obama issued the directive.

“If a big corporation like DynCorp can change, then President Obama can certainly create change by signing the ENDA executive order that his staff has already drafted for him,” Almeida said. “The order is sitting on a desk in the White House right now just waiting to be signed, and it’s time for the president to put pen to paper.”

Multiple sources have told the Blade that the Labor and Justice Departments have cleared an administrative measure that would bar federal dollars from going to companies without LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination protections and have sent their recommendation to the White House for final approval. The White House hasn’t said one way or the other whether Obama will issue the directive.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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