President Trump’s office issued a press release on January 31st, stating his intention to continue enforcing Executive Order 13672. This order was issued by President Obama in July 2014, amending Executive Order 11246 to extend protection from workplace discrimination to the LGBT population. This press release refutes speculation that President Trump would be rescinding this order entirely, however, it is currently unclear if there will be stronger religious exemptions to follow. President Obama’s original order did not include any religious exemptions. However, an order signed by President Bush amended EO 11246 to exempt religious organizations from non-discrimination on the basis of religion. This exemption is nearly identical to the language of the religious exemption in Title VII. Such exemptions, as currently written, state that religious organizations are able to “favor or prefer to employ individuals of a particular religion when making employment decisions.”
If President Trump intends to increase the parameters of the current religious exemption, there are a number of possible outcomes. First, the exemption could be broadened to all contractors and not just specifically religious ones. Additionally, a possible iteration of the exemption in the form of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, would allow religious contractors to require employees “to conform to a declared set of significant religious tenets.” In the coming weeks, it is possible that President Trump may draft a new EO focused on religious freedom. DCI will be tracking this issue closely to provide the most up to date information for contractors.
By Rachel Monroe, HR Analyst, and Jana Garman, Senior Consultant at DCI Consulting Group