As expected, President Obama signed an Executive Order yesterday which amends Executive Order 11246 to prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against employees or applicants based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The prohibition against discrimination based on sexual orientation is not new to federal contractors who operate in New York State, because the New York Human Rights Law already prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. Nevertheless, all federal contractors in New York should take this opportunity to review their policies and practices to ensure compliance with the new Executive Order. Specifically, all anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies should specifically list sexual orientation and gender identity among the protected categories, and all solicitations for employees should include a statement that qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity (in addition to the other protected categories).
The Secretary of Labor has been directed to issue regulations implementing the amendments to Executive Order 11246 within 90 days. The amendments to Executive Order 11246 will apply to federal contracts entered into on or after the effective date of the regulations issued by the Secretary of Labor.