Affirmative Action protections for gender identity and sexual orientation

Document created by 1032141 on Mar 16, 2015Last modified by 1032141 on Mar 10, 2017
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kaleigh.jpgRecently there has been a lot of activity regarding the protections and requirements for people who are in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community. This activity has occurred with state regulations regarding same sex marriage and rulings by the US Supreme Court about the validity of these marriages. The Department of Labor is adopting a new definition of spouse (on March 27, 2015) to include those people who are part of legal same sex marriages. This will afford spouses in same-sex marriages the same the FMLA rights as traditional marriages.


The White House has taken another approach to provide and expand protections to individuals in the LGBT community. President Obama issued Executive Order 13672 prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by federal contractors and subcontractors. In response to President Obama’s request to expand protections to these groups, the Office of Federal Contracts Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued final rule amending Executive Order 11246. This update becomes effective on April 8, 2015.


What that means for companies covered by affirmative action regulations is that they will need to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected groups just as they currently do for race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Things that federal contractors and subcontractors should do by April 8th are:


  • Update EEO/AA policies to include gender identity and sexual orientation
  • Update handbook and other policies to include gender identity and sexual orientation
  • Update EO Clauses and required language in subcontracts and purchase orders to include gender identity and sexual orientation
  • Update any other documentation where protected classifications are listed to include gender identity and sexual orientation
  • Train managers and personnel responsible for employment decisions on the newly protected categories


As states and federal government continue to move in the direction of a more diverse and inclusive environment, so should companies. Federal contractors may also want to consider conducting training for workforce on these protections and ensure there is a culture of acceptance and non-discrimination for these newly protected classifications.


If you have any questions about these changes or how it affects your organization feel free to contact me, Kaleigh Ferraro, directly at 919‑713‑5241 or Also, be sure to register for our free AAP webinar on Tuesday, March 24th, 2015!