Year-end controversy: new DOL rule on workplace discrimination

| Dec 15, 2020 | Employee Discrimination

Proponents of a final rule addressing federal workplace discrimination that was recently issued by the U.S. Department of Labor view it as overdue legislation safeguarding the rights of so-called “religion-exercising organizations.”

Opponents – and there are many, including advocates of the country’s diverse LGBTQ community – are not so charitable. In fact, they roundly condemn an exemption scheduled to take legal effect on January 8 as “a pretext to permit discrimination against or harm others.” Following is a nutshell summary of the DOL rule.

Discussion logically begins with the seminal 1964 Civil Rights Act, specifically that law’s Title VII protections against discrimination accorded a number of enumerated workplace classifications. As we specifically note on our website at the proven national employment legal offices of The Devadoss Law Firm, one specified category is religion.

The new rule materially expands the rights of federal contractors and subcontractors in one narrowly defined sphere. Entities “holding themselves out to the public as carrying out a religious purpose” will be able to claim a defense against alleged discrimination based on an affected individual’s religion.

The government states that the rule is carefully limited and will not have a major effect generally on the nation’s vast pool of federal contractors. Labor officials stress especially that federal protections grounded in other categories (for example, sexual orientation and gender identity) will continue to be rigorously and absolutely promoted.

Again, a broad swath of naysayers thinks otherwise. They argue strongly against any employer behaviors that have a discriminatory impact in hiring, firing and linked employment outcomes.

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