Women make up over 50 percent of the population in the United States and are a significant part of the workforce. Yet, discrimination based on gender (sex discrimination) remains prevalent. As an employment attorney, practicing for over 21 years, I (among many others) have been trying to eradicate this problem from our society while constantly looking for and soliciting better regulations. It appears, the U.S. Department of Labor has finally heard the cry of many woman and their supporters pushing for further clarification and expansion of the regulations that are present to promote gender equality.
On June 14, 2016 U.S. Department of Labor published the new sex discrimination regulations (the department’s interpretation of Executive Order 11246) and is expected to publish the final rules in the Federal Register shortly. The updated rules regarding gender equality at the workplace will further promote equal opportunities for both men and women applying for jobs and those already working for covered Contractors that do business with the government.
Patricia A. Shiu, the director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs went on to state: “We have made progress as a country in opening career opportunities for women that were, for decades, the province of men. Yet, there is more work that lies ahead to eradicate sex discrimination. This is why it is important that we bring these old guidelines from the ‘Mad Men’ era to the modern era, and align them with the realities of today’s workplaces and legal landscape.”
The final rule was adopted to updates and make the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program’s sex discrimination regulations consistent with social norms and the current law. The protections against sex discrimination, sex-based barriers to equal pay and benefit, sex stereotyping, gender identity, and transgender status regarding equal pay, family caregiver discrimination, and hostile work environment claims have now become more explicit.
In addition to Executive Order 11246, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program is required to enforce Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. These laws, already make discrimination in employment based on race, religion, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, and veteran status illegal for contractors and subcontractors that are doing business with the federal government.