OFCCP: Sex Bias Guidelines Need Updating

Calling current sex discrimination guidelines “woefully out of date”  and not reflective of current law and changes in the workplace, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has proposed a major rewrite to bring them into the 21st century. In a proposed rule published on Friday, January 30, the OFCCP–which enforces nondiscrimination rules in government contracting– said it wants the rules to align with societal and legal changes since they were first issued in the 1970s.

The new rules would expand focus to include pregnancy discrimination, gender identity discrimination, and sexual harassment, the agency’s announcement said.

OFCCP’s sex discrimination guidelines implement Executive Order 11246, which prohibits companies with federal contracts and subcontracts from sex discrimination in employment. The proposed rule would update these guidelines to reflect demographic developments such as the increased presence of women in the workplace, as well as legal developments — including a Supreme Court ruling recognizing that a sexually hostile work environment is a form of sex discrimination and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which strengthened workplace protections for pregnant women. The agency’s notice of proposed rulemaking addresses a variety of barriers to equal opportunity that too many women face in the workplace today, including pay discrimination, sexual harassment, failure to provide workplace accommodations for pregnancy and gender identity and family caregiving discrimination.

“A person’s gender should never determine whether or not she gets, keeps or advances in a job,” said Latifa Lyles, director of the department’s Women’s Bureau. “The rule we are proposing will protect workers from losing out on job opportunities because of antiquated stereotypes, nonconformity with gender norms or pregnancy.”

Here’s a link to the proposed rule. The public has until March 31 to comment.

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