Biden Cancels Trump’s Discriminatory Religious Exemption Policy


The U.S. Department of Labor has decided to nullify one of ex-president Trump’s rules. The administration had created a religious exemption for, of all groups, federal contractors. The rule went into effect during the transition from the previous administration to President Joe Biden’s. It broadened the federal contractors’ exemption to include employers who, according to Reuters:

‘[They] hold themselves out to the public as carrying out a religious purpose.’

LGBTQ organizations warned at the time that the Trump administration’s ruling for religious organizations working as federal contractors could easily lead to discrimination.

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is under the Department of Labor. Less than two years before Trump took office, the entity banned federal contractors from discriminating based upon gender identity and sexual orientation.

President Biden’s proposed rule indicated as The Government Executive wrote:

‘This not only places the rule in tension with the president’s intent in expressly incorporating the Title VII religious exemption into executive order 11246 in 2003, but also undermines the government’s long-standing policy of requiring that federal contractors provide equal employment opportunity, subject to a religious exemption for contractors with primarily religious purpose and character.’

According to a statement from the Department of Labor, the sitting president’s rule will prohibit employers from discriminating on a number of fronts ranging from pregnancy to  race:

‘The EO 11246 religious exemption is based on the religious exemption in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. When analyzing potential discrimination under EO 11246, [the] OFCCP follows the principles of Title VII, which prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants and employees on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation and gender identity), or national origin.’

Jenny Yang served as the Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs under the George W. Bush and Barack Obama presidencies. She said:

‘We are proposing a rescission of the religious exemption rule to protect workers from discrimination and safeguard principles of religious freedom.’

President Biden’s OFFCP reviewed the Trump ruling and found it “unnecessary and problematic.” Yang told Reuters that removing this rule would mark a more consistent application of the federal contracting process:

‘The proposed rescission would also promote economy and efficiency in federal procurement by preventing the exclusion of qualified and talented employees on the basis of protected characteristics. This ensures that taxpayer funds are not used to discriminate.’

Just one more wrong righted among a host of wrongs.

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