On June 14, 2016, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced publication of a Final Rule in the Federal Register which introduces the requirements which covered contractors must adhere to according to the provisions of Executive Order 11246 prohibiting sex discrimination in the workplace. This ruling updates sex discrimination guidelines from 1970 with new regulations which correlate with current law and addresses the realities of today’s employment atmosphere.
The Final Rule involves a plethora of sex-based barriers to equal employment and fair pay, including compensation discrimination, hostile work environments, sexual harassment, and gender identity and family caregiving discrimination, such as failure to offer workplace benefits for pregnant workers.
The Final Rule touches upon the following topics:
- Updates sex discrimination guidelines. This ruling adjusts OFCCP’s regulations with current law and addresses concerns of today’s workplaces, providing more adequate and pertinent guidelines to federal contractors with antiquated protocols.
- Prohibits sexual harassment. This rule forbids offensive sexual remarks, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conducted related to the basis of sex when such behavior and conduct interferes with work performance of an individual, creates a hostile work environment, and affects employment decisions.
- Protects transgender workers. The rule also translates that sex discrimination involves discrimination related to gender identity. This requires contractors to allow workers to use restrooms, changing rooms, showers, and similar facilities consistent with the gender with which the workers identity.
- Equal access to jobs and workforce development opportunities for men and women. Federal contractors are not allowed to have requirements for training or jobs based on an applicant’s or employee’s sex, unless the occupation demands those certain gender qualifications.
- Equal benefits to male and female workers who participate in fringe-benefit plans. The rule forbids sexual discrimination regarding fringe benefits, including medical, hospital, life insurance, accident, and retirement benefits; leave; profit-sharing and bonus plans; as well as other employment conditions, terms, and privileges.
- Promotes fair pay practices. Contractors are prohibited from paying workers differently based on their sex. This relates to overtime, training, better pay, or higher-paying positions. Employees are able to recover lost wages whenever a contractor pays compensation as a result of discrimination.
- Forbids discrimination based on sex stereotypes. Contractors are not allowed to treat applicants or employees negatively due to their failure to comply with gender expectations.
The Final Rule becomes effective on August 15, 2016. All employers who are federal contractors, or subcontractors to federal contractors) should review their EEO and Affirmative Action documents and work with their legal team to ensure that they comply with the OFCCP’s Finale Rule on the effective date.
If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, contact Polaris Law Group today.