A group of 72 lawmakers led by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) are calling on President Obama to “sign an executive order that would prohibit federal contractors from discriminating in the workplace based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.” The administration has begun the process of drafting the decree — the Labor and the Justice Departments have reportedly approved the language — but has yet to issue it.
“This order would extend important workplace protections to millions of Americans, while at the same time laying the groundwork for Congressional passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a goal that we share with you,” the lawmakers write, noting that the initiative would also build on President Johnson’s Executive order “prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against employees based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin”:
The opportunity to expand protections against workplace discrimination to members of the LGBT community is a critical step that you can take today, especially when data and research tell us that 43 percent of LGB people and 90 percent of transgender people have experienced workplace discrimination. According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity would protect more than 16 million additional workers.
Beyond this executive order helping to address the widespread problem of discrimination against LGBT people, it would also help advance what is viewed to be a best practice in corporate America: creating a level playing field for LGBT workers. The majority of the 50 largest corporations in America, for example, say that adopting inclusive workplace practices — such as adding sexual orientation and gender identity to corporate non-discrimination statements — helps attract the best talent, reduce employee turnover, and overall is a plus to their bottom lines.
As a candidate in 2008, Obama committed to supporting a “formal written policy of non-discrimination that includes sexual orientation and gender identity or expression … for all Federal contractors.” Meanwhile, over 100,000 have signed a Freedom To Work Change.org petition urging the President to take action.