Last week, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs announced a Final Rule prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by federal contractors and subcontractors. The Rule implements Executive Order 13672 signed by President Obama in July 2014. OFCCP announced during a Webinar yesterday that the new Rule will become effective April 8, 2015. Any contract entered into or modified after the effective date will be subject to the new Rule.

EO 13672 amended EO 11246, which previously only prohibited discrimination by Federal contractors and subcontractors on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. EO 13672 amended section 202 and section 203 of EO 11246, by substituting the phrase “sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin” for “sex or national origin.” This final rule implements EO 13672 by making the same substitution wherever the phrase “sex or national origin” appears in the regulations implementing EO 11246. The new rule will apply both to applicants and employees.

It will be critical for contractors to update their internal and external policies, third-party notifications and affirmative action plans to include these new protected categories. In addition, as with any protected category, it is critical to train managers concerning their non-discrimination obligations and to monitor compliance with the contractor’s anti-discrimination policies. It is not enough to “talk the talk,” you have to “walk the walk” to ensure compliance and avoid discrimination and harassment claims.

The Final Rule, Executive Orders 11246 and 13672, Final Rule FAQs and a “Fact Sheet” can be found here.