Yesterday, the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) published a notice of proposed rulemaking that would rescind the Labor Department’s sex discrimination guidelines for federal contractors and subcontractors and replace them with new rules.  According to the OFCCP, the current guidelines, which it published in 1970, do not reflect current interpretations of federal law prohibiting sex discrimination and meet the realities of the modern workplace.

Federal contractors and subcontractors with contracts of $10,000 or more are required to follow these rules to ensure that they do not discriminate on the basis of sex in employment in violation of Executive Order 11246.

Some revisions included in the NPRM may be non-controversial, but others may generate strong reactions.

Among the changes to be proposed are:

  • that discrimination based on gender identity or transgender status will be treated as sex discrimination, including against individuals who are undergoing or planning to undergo gender reassignment surgery
  • that employers may exempt themselves from providing medical insurance benefits for abortion, except in cases where the life of the mother would be endangered or where complications have arisen from an abortion
  • employer providing health insurance coverage may not exclude coverage for pregnancy, childbirth and contraception
  • that employers may not prohibits the denial of family or medical leave for pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions on the basis of sex

Comments on the proposed rule must be received by March 31, 2015.