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DOL revises rules banning sex discrimination in federal contracting

For the first time in 40 years, the U.S. Department of Labor is revising its regulations banning sexual discrimination in federal contracting.

According to an official statement Tuesday, the changes are needed to make the labor department’s internal guidelines reflect developments in case law and requirements adopted by other federal agencies. The new regulations merely make explicit existing protections against: compensation discrimination, sexually hostile workplaces, discrimination against pregnant women or women who have other medical conditions and discrimination stemming from sexual stereotypes, among other things.

The new rule will apply to both companies that contract directly with the federal government and those that work on projects that receive federal money. The labor department stated the purpose of the change is to ensure that current anti-discrimination guidelines reflect current interpretations of the federal executive order that, in 1965, established the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

The order, signed by President Lyndon Johnson, directed the new office to add non-discrimination and affirmative-action rules to all federal and federally assisted projects.

“The rule adopted today will mean that long debunked stereotypes will not keep workers from getting a new job or a promotion,” Latifa Lyles, director of the department of labor’s Women’s Bureau, said in a statement. “This is an important reminder that there is no such thing as ‘women’s work’ or ‘men’s work,’ there is only work.”

The Department of Labor’s new guidelines come out the same day that the White House Council on Women and Girls is holding an event named the United State of Women Summit in Washington, D.C. The event is meant to not only provide a venue for talking about progress toward equality between the sexes but also about ways in which improvement is still needed.

About Dan Shaw, [email protected]

Dan Shaw is the managing editor at the Wisconsin Law Journal. He can be reached at [email protected] or at 414-225-1807.

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