A new directive issued by the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) on August 10 “broadly expanded the rights of businesses with federal contracts to raise a ‘religious exemption’ if they’re accused of discrimination,” Buzzfeed News reports.
The new directive cites three Supreme Court cases and two Trump policies in instructing federal investigators to give contractors a pass if they claim a religious justification in certain cases — which, critics say, betrays Trump’s promise last year.
“The new directive tells federal contractors they are free, in the Trump administration’s view, to use taxpayer dollars to discriminate,” Ria Tabacco Mar, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, told BuzzFeed News.
For example, she said, “A federal contractor could point to this directive to justify firing someone because they are gay or transgender — while continuing to accept federal funds. That’s a big deal because federal contractors employ millions of people.”
When Trump took office he promised to honor a 2014 Obama executive honor protecting federal workings from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Shocker, he didn’t.
Said Lambda Legal’s Shane McGowan to Buzzfeed: “This Administration apparently recognizes — correctly, in our view — that rescinding [Obama’s 2014] executive order outright would cause a huge public outcry. So instead, this Administration is trying to accomplish the same end through different means. The damage that could be done here cannot be overstated.”