On June 14, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) published a final rule updating the regulations on sex discrimination, which goes into effect on August 15, 2016. The previous rules were deemed archaic, in that they reflected standards that had not been updated since 1970. The final rule generally applies to federal contractors with a single federal contract in excess of $10,000. Essentially, the final rule:
- Brings sex discrimination guidelines up to date;
- Provides protections related to pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions;
- Promotes fair-pay practices;
- Provides equal benefits in fringe-benefit plans;
- Prohibits sexual harassment;
- Gives equal access to jobs and training opportunities;
- Safeguards workers who care for loved ones;
- Protects transgender workers;
- Prohibits discrimination based on sex stereotypes; and
- Is consistent with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and other protections for religiously affiliated contractors.
Under the final rule, federal contractors must allow transgender employees access to the restrooms with which they identify. The final rule adopts the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act standard for equal pay, and requires federal contractors to accommodate pregnant employees with light or modified job duties.
Because these regulations are an update to align with existing law and legal interpretations, contractors are likely already in compliance. There are, however, a number of best practices listed in the appendix to the final rule that federal contractors may want to review.
The OFCCP has developed a website with information on the final rule (including a Fact Sheet, FAQs, and comparison of the old guidelines with the new ones), which can be found here.