A new rule for an executive order signed by President Obama prohibiting federal contractors from engaging in anti-LGBT workplace discrimination is now final, the Labor Department announced Wednesday.
Following years of pressure from LGBT advocates, Obama signed the order on July 21, but the process wasn’t yet final because the Labor Department and the Office of Management & Budget had to draft a rule to implement the measure.
Once the final rule is published in the Federal Register, it will become effective 120 days later and apply to federal contracts entered into or modified on or after that date, according to the Labor Department.
After its announcement, the Labor Department published Frequently Asked Questions for the final rule, which can be found here. The final rule itself is set to be online at 4:30 pm, according to the Labor Department. UPDATE: The final rule is here.
Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said in a statement the final rule for the executive order, known as Executive Order 13672, is a step in the path to ending anti-LGBT discrimination in the workforce.
“Americans believe in fairness and opportunity,” Perez said. “No one should live in fear of being fired or passed over or discriminated against at work simply because of who they are or who they love. Laws prohibiting workplace discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity are long overdue, and we’re taking a big step forward today to fix that.”
No explicit protections exist in federal code prohibiting companies from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, although the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has interpreted existing protections for gender to protect transgender workers.
The executive order is considered the first federal action to ensure LGBT employment non-discrimination in the public sector. However, in April the Obama administration interpreted the LGBT non-discrimination provisions in reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act to extend to employment at organizations accepting federal grants for domestic violence programs.
Charged with enforcing the executive order is the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which is headed by Patricia Shiu.
“We are building on the work of presidents and members of Congress from both parties who have expanded opportunities for America’s workers,” Shiu said in a statement. “This rule will extend protections to millions of workers who are employed by or seek jobs with federal contractors and subcontractors, ensuring that sexual orientation and gender identity are never used as justification for workplace discrimination by those that profit from taxpayer dollars.”
In October, the Labor Department had submitted its proposed rule for the executive order to the Office of Management & Budget. No comment period took place for the proposed rule.
Laura McGinnis, a spokesperson for the Labor Department, said the administration didn’t allow for a comment period because of the nature of the executive order.
“In cases where an Executive Order is very clear about the steps the department needs to take and leaves no discretion regarding how to proceed, agencies may publish final rules without notice and comment,” McGinnis said. “So this one was sent to OMB as a final rule.”