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Labor Department issues final discrimination rule

On June 14, the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, or OFCCP, issued a final rule updating its discrimination guidelines for federal contractors in California and nationwide. It is the first update in more than 40 years.

OFCCP's final rule largely follows existing law interpreting Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but it makes key provisions in the areas of pay discrimination, sex stereotyping, leave and fringe benefits, pregnancy-related workplace accommodations and gender identity. For pay discrimination, the rule expands the definition of compensation discrimination to include pay differences that result from job segregation or gender-based job classifications. For sex stereotyping, the rule includes adverse treatment of employees based on gender stereotypes in its definition of sex discrimination. For leave and fringe benefits, the rule entitles male and female workers to equal child care leave and sick leave. For pregnancy accommodations, the rule states that pregnant employees affected by pregnancy-related medical conditions are entitled to accommodations such as seating, light-duty assignments and extra bathroom breaks. For gender identity, the rule states that sex discrimination includes gender identity and sexual orientation.

The final rule also includes a list of nonbinding best practices, which are meant to ensure that workers feel free from workplace discrimination and that contractors are in compliance with the new provisions. These best practices include designating single-user bathrooms, using gender-neutral terms for certain positions, offering sex-neutral changing rooms and showers and fostering a workplace culture that does not assume women are more likely to provide family care than men.

Workplace discrimination is unfortunately pervasive in private industry as well, and California also has its own set of laws prohibiting certain types. Employees who feel that they have been unfairly targeted by this type of behavior may want to meet with an attorney to learn what steps can be taken to seek redress.

Source: National Law Review, "Final Gender Discrimination Rule for Federal Contractors Issued," Paul Evans, June 21, 2016

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