The Trump administration is attempting to legitimate workplace discrimination against LGBTQ employees and other vulnerable people, to include unmarried pregnant women, after the Labor Department unveiled a rule that would allow federal contractors to cite religious beliefs to protect themselves from bias claims. The rule is expected to be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, at which point the public will have 60 days to submit comments on the proposal.
The 46-page draft rule from the Labor Department would apply to a range of so-called religious organizations — including corporations, schools, and societies — provided that they claim a “religious purpose.”
But the Trump administration makes clear in the draft rule that a corporation needn’t focus entirely on religion to qualify, saying, “The contractor must be organized for a religious purpose, meaning that it was conceived with a self-identified religious purpose. This need not be the contractor’s only purpose.”
“A religious purpose can be shown by articles of incorporation or other founding documents, but that is not the only type of evidence that can be used,” says the rule, which grants companies many opportunities to claim that faith or morals guide their purpose.
The proposal could apply to up to 420,000 contractors, according to the notice to be published in the Federal Register. “While only a subset of contractors and would-be contractors may wish to seek this exemption, the Supreme Court, Congress, and the President have each affirmed the importance of protecting religious liberty for those organizations who wish to exercise it,” the notice reads.
The Labor Department further contends the rule would save contractors and taxpayers money because businesses wouldn’t be bogged down by the legal expenses of fending off discrimination cases.
“This rule seeks to undermine our civil rights protections and encourages discrimination in the workplace—and we will work to stop it,” said the ACLU. “This is taxpayer-funded discrimination in the name of religion. Period.”
“Nearly one-quarter of employees in the United States work for an employer that has a contract with the federal government. This rule seeks to undermine our civil rights protections and encourages discrimination in the workplace—and we will work to stop it.”
Senator Scott Wiener, Chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, issued the following statement:
“This proposal is absolutely atrocious. The Trump Administration is proposing to legalize discrimination by taxpayer-funded federal contractors, based on religious beliefs, against LGBTQ people and unmarried pregnant women. Taxpayer money must not fund discrimination. This proposal cannot stand.”
The rule is expected to be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, at which point the public will have 60 days to submit comments on the proposal.
As Bloomberg Law reported Wednesday, the rule “would cement current exemptions that ‘religion-exercising organizations’ can use to shield themselves from bias claims for hiring decisions and other actions motivated by religious belief. That includes religious entities as well as ‘closely held’ companies acting in accordance with an owner’s religious belief.”
PLEASE STAY TUNED FOR DIRECTION AND ACTION IN NEXT 60 DAYS … in meantime spread your outrage!!!
Posted by: Melanie Nathan
Advocacy: African Human Rights Coalition
Follow me on Twitter – @MelanieNathan1