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Executive Order on Sexual Orientation Discrimination in the Workplace

Published:  July 11, 2014

Massachusetts currently protects employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation, but most states currently do not. However, President Barak Obama may soon change that. It is expected that our President will soon sign an executive order barring federal government contractors from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (“LGBT”) employees and job candidates.

Although recent efforts to enact LGBT anti-discrimination have been stalled in the House of Representatives, this executive order’s success and support may prompt renewed efforts at enacting the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). ENDA would prohibit employers with fifteen or more employees from discriminating against LGBT applicants and employees.

With this on the horizon, employers should pay close attention to the President’s order and its application. Also, employers should review and consider updating various policies (including employee handbook changes) that may be impacted. Such policies as equal employment opportunity, harassment, family and medical leave, and bereavement may be implicated. In addition, employers should also make sure their supervisors are being trained in recognizing and handling discrimination regardless of the basis in an effort to prevent claims.

If you have any questions regarding discrimination in the workplace, please contact any of the attorneys at Royal LLP at (413) 586-2288.