New LGBT Anti-Discrimination Protections for Federal Workers

LGBT employees of the Federal government are receiving cross-agency protections in response to an Executive Order by President Obama.

President Obama’s Executive Order amended two other Executive Orders 11478 (Nixon) and 11246 (Johnson) to prohibit discrimination in Federal government hiring and employment practices based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In response, four Federal agencies (OPM, EEOC, OSC, and the MSPB) issued guidance on their process for LGBT Federal government workers to seek recourse for discrimination complaints. The guide also provides federal workers with a description of employee rights and agency responsibilities under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, and other agency and union procedures.

Defining Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity for Federal Employees

The guide defines sexual orientation as:

“…one’s emotional or physical attraction to the same and/or opposite sex.”

It also defines gender identity as:

“…one’s inner sense of one’s own gender, which may or may not match the sex assigned at birth…For some [people], gender may be expressed through, for example, dress, grooming, mannerisms, speech patterns, and social interactions. Gender expression usually ranges between masculine and feminine, and some transgender people express their gender consistent with how they identify internally, rather than in accordance with the sex they were assigned at birth.”

The OSC recently found that civil service laws governing discrimination against sexual orientation also prohibit gender identity discrimination.

Why Should Private Employers Pay Attention?

As the largest employer in the U.S., the Federal government believes it should “set an example for other employers” by tackling discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Several recent decisions issued in recent years by the EEOC show that LGBT non-Federal workers can bring valid discrimination claims such as in the case of Macy v. Holder, where a transgender woman was denied employment due to her gender identity.

All employers in the U.S. should create comprehensive nondiscrimination policies that meet the requirements of Title VII and that include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.

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