White House news indicates that President Barack Obama is going to sign an order banning anti-gay discrimination in the workplace. The president has directed his staff to draft an executive order. The order would place a ban on workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender employers of any federal contractors. Many see this move as the clearest indication that the Obama administration is prepared to take action on LGBT rights in spite of Congress’s failure to do so.
It’s unclear whether Obama intends the leak of the “intention” to sign as a warning to lawmakers to pass more extensive workplace discrimination laws in the limited window available to them before he takes matters into his own hands or if it is the long overdue action he pledged to take during his 2008 campaign.
The planned executive order comes after years of what many view as inaction. The Obama administration has been calling for Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (which would make it illegal for employers throughout the entire nation to fire or discriminate or harass anyone in their employ due to sexual orientation or gender identity). The bill passed the Senate, but stalled in the House. Due to this stall the president has felt an increase in pressure to take action on his own.
If the proposed executive order were to take effect, it would affect approximately 16 million workers. The executive order under discussion would build upon protections already in place that prohibit general discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or nationality. Millions of Americans in most states in the country head to work every morning unsure of their job security because of who they are or who they love. There are currently no federal laws providing adequate protection for LGBT workers fearing employment discrimination.
For additional information on legal protection from harassment and discrimination in the workplace for LGBT contact the experts in California employment law at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.