On January 28, 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced that its latest Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) will be published in the Federal Register on January 30, 2015. According to OFCCP’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), key provisions of the Discrimination on the Basis of Sex NPRM would:

  • Clarify that adverse treatment of an employee because of gender-stereotyped assumptions relating to family caretaking responsibilities is discrimination.
  • Clarify that leave for childcare must be available to men on the same terms as it is available to women.
  • Confirm that contractors must provide a variety of workplace accommodations, ranging from extra bathroom breaks to light-duty assignments, to women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions comparable to the accommodations that contractors provide to other workers similar in their ability or inability to work, such as employees with disabilities or occupational injuries.
  • Clarify that unlawful compensation discrimination can result from job segregation or classification on the basis of gender, not just unequal pay for equal work.
  • Confirm that contractors must provide equal benefits and equal contributions for male and female employees participating in fringe-benefit plans.
  • Address both quid pro quo and hostile-environment sexual harassment, and identify as a best practice that contractors develop and implement procedures to ensure an environment in which all employees feel safe and welcomed, are treated fairly, and are not harassed because of sex.
  • Clarify that adverse treatment of employees because they do not conform to gender norms and expectations about their appearance, attire, or behavior, is unlawful sex discrimination.
  • Clarify that discrimination against an individual because of her or his gender identity is unlawful sex discrimination.

Deadline for public comments is March 31, 2015.  Information about how to submit comments is included in the FAQs and will also be included in the January 30 Federal Register publication.

An OFCCP webpage contains links to the NPRM, a Fact Sheet, Frequently Asked Questions, and other resources pertaining to sex discrimination in general.

OFCCP’s News Release follows in its entirety:

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News Release

OFCCP News Release:  [01/28/2015]
Contact Name:  Michael Trupo or Laura McGinnis
Phone Number: (202) 693-6588 or x4653
Email:  
Trupo.Michael@dol.gov or McGinnis.Laura.K@dol.gov 
Release Number:  14-2186-NAT

US Labor Department proposes critical updates to sex discrimination
guidelines for federal contractors and subcontractors
 

Revisions address discrimination based on gender identity and pregnancy, sexual harassment

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today announced a proposal to clarify federal contractors’ requirements to prohibit sex discrimination.  The recommended changes would revise the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ guidelines to align with laws, court decisions and societal changes since they were originally issued in 1970.

“Our sex discrimination guidelines are woefully out of date and don’t reflect established law or the reality of modern workplaces,” said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu.  “We owe it to the working women of America — and their families — to fix this regulatory anachronism so there is no confusion about how federal contractors must comply with their equal opportunity obligations.”

OFCCP’s sex discrimination guidelines implement Executive Order 11246, which prohibits companies with federal contracts and subcontracts from sex discrimination in employment.  The proposed rule would update these guidelines to reflect demographic developments such as the increased presence of women in the workplace, as well as legal developments — including a Supreme Court ruling recognizing that a sexually hostile work environment is a form of sex discrimination and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which strengthened workplace protections for pregnant women.  The agency’s notice of proposed rulemaking addresses a variety of barriers to equal opportunity that too many women face in the workplace today, including pay discrimination, sexual harassment, failure to provide workplace accommodations for pregnancy and gender identity and family caregiving discrimination.

“A person’s gender should never determine whether or not she gets, keeps or advances in a job,” said Latifa Lyles, director of the department’s Women’s Bureau.  “The rule we are proposing will protect workers from losing out on job opportunities because of antiquated stereotypes, nonconformity with gender norms or pregnancy.”

The proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register on January 30, and the public will have until March 31 (60 days) to provide comments. More information, including the text of the NPRM, is available at www.dol.gov/ofccp/SDNPRM/.

In addition to Executive Order 11246, OFCCP enforces Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974.  Collectively, these three laws require contractors and subcontractors that do business with the federal government to prohibit discrimination and ensure equal opportunity in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and status as a protected veteran.  For more information, please call OFCCP’s toll-free helpline at 800-397-6251 or visit https://www.dol.gov/ofccp/.

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