STATEMENT: The Trump Labor Department Is Giving Contractors a Broad License To Discriminate

Washington, D.C. — On Monday, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) released a final rule that seeks to create a broad license to discriminate, undermining worker protections in the middle of a pandemic.

Misusing the language of religious freedom to enable discrimination, the rule attempts to undermine the law and the Department of Labor’s own mission to protect workers and hold those who do business with the federal government accountable for complying with legal requirements. This rule opens millions of workers—including LGBTQ people, religious minorities, and women—to discrimination.

Maggie Siddiqi, director of the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement on the rule change:

This rule is the latest effort by the Trump administration to undermine nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people, religious minorities, and women. It provides an exemption to federal contractors, which employ 1 in 5 American workers, that will allow them to fire or hire employees in the name of religion.

The federal contractors that qualify for this exemption would even include for-profit organizations. Far from protecting religious freedom, this rule actually allows employees to be discriminated against because of their religious beliefs or lack thereof. When this rule was first proposed last year, 110 religious leaders and 17 faith-based organization signed a letter opposing it. The final version of this rule does very little to alleviate those concerns.

Among the bevy of actions that President-elect Joe Biden plans to take in his first days in office to undo the damage caused by his predecessor, the incoming administration should act swiftly to reverse this rule change and restore protections for millions of American workers from unlawful discrimination.

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