Vigilant Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law, HR, safety & workers' comp

Jan 21, 2021

New executive orders address diversity training, LGBTQ+ protections

Affirmative ActionHarassment & Discrimination 

President Biden has rescinded President Trump’s controversial Executive Order 13950: Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping, effective immediately. As we previously reported, the order prohibited federal contractors from training employees on “divisive concepts” related to race and sex discrimination. Later we reported that a federal court issued a nationwide injunction that temporarily halted enforcement while a legal challenge alleged the executive order violated Constitutional principles of free speech and due process of law. On January 20, 2021, President Biden signed a new executive order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. In addition to rescinding Executive Order 13950, the new order requires federal agencies to evaluate what improvements could be made to improve equity and inclusion for underserved communities. It also says the federal government lacks sufficient data for a comprehensive analysis of such measures, so it establishes an Interagency Working Group on Equitable Data to evaluate steps for improving its data collection.

Also on January 20, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation. The order cites the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020 decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which as we previously reported, said Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination includes sexual orientation and gender identity. The order establishes a federal policy of equal access to benefits and employment, and directs federal agencies to review existing programs to ensure that any laws or regulations prohibiting sex discrimination are interpreted to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Tips: The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), which enforces affirmative action requirements for federal contractors and had been tapped to enforce Executive Order 13950 under President Trump, appears to already have a new director. Jenny Yang, a former Commissioner on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is stepping into the role, replacing Craig Leen. The OFCCP’s website hasn’t yet been updated, but Ms. Yang is listed as OFCCP Director on the Department of Labor’s leadership team webpage. Before serving at the EEOC, she held positions as a plaintiff’s attorney and as a senior trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice. Vigilant will keep members informed of any further developments that affect federal contractors.

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