What Obama Should Do About Workplace DiscriminationPresident Obama has already signed an executive order to require any hospital that receives federal aid allow LGBT partners access to their partners when they are hospitalized. He has also banned discrimination against LGBT federal employees.
New York Times
By M. V. LEE BADGETT
Published: February 6, 2012
DynCorp’s new policy [forbidding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity] is a welcome development — but it’s unfortunate that federal law still allows such discrimination. DynCorp has received billions of dollars in federal contracts over the last decade. Why should taxpayer money be used to buy goods and services from companies that permit discrimination based on a worker’s sexual orientation or gender identity?
Making sure taxpayer dollars don’t support companies that discriminate does not require an act of Congress. By issuing an executive order, President Obama can — and should — make nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity a requirement for doing business with the American public.
An executive order banning workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity by federal contractors might also be the first step toward federal legislation outlawing the same for all employees.
In the past, executive orders setting standards for contractors have not only put an American ideal of equal opportunity into practice; they have also helped show employers that ending discrimination is good for business. Employers who act out of bias waste valuable training and often pass over the best person for the job. In the case of gay and transgender workers, workplace discrimination comes with an added cost to employers, leading other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers to fear disclosure and contributing to stress, illness and lower productivity.
This would be another step forward for equality, but it does not have the same weight as a law. The next president could just as easy write another executive order banning the employment of LGBT employees, that is why we need to pass a gender inclusive Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).