Public Comment

Religious Exemptions Among Federal Contractors: Public Comment

December 2021

In November 2021, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) in the U.S. Department of Labor published a proposed rule that would rescind a Trump-era rule that vastly expands religious exemptions from non-discrimination protections for federal contractors.

Public Comment

Executive Order 11246 prohibits federal contractors from discriminating in employment on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and other bases. It contains a narrow exemption that permits religious organizations to prefer individuals of the same religion.

Executive Order 11246 protects LGBT people across the country who work for federal contractors. These protections are especially important to the 4.1 million LGBT workers living in states without express statutory protections against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. An estimated 900,000 LGBT people work for a federal contractor in those states.

Scholars argue that the proposed rule should not be finalized because it impermissibly expands religious exemptions. In addition, it fails to take into account the harm the rule would impose on LGBT and other workers, and it deprived the public of a meaningful opportunity to evaluate and respond to the proposed rule. The comment was joined by OFCCP’s former director and deputy director, a former deputy Secretary of Labor, and law professors from around the country.

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Religious Exemptions Among Federal Contractors: Public Comment