The Freedom From Religion Foundation has submitted a formal comment condemning a proposed Department of Labor rule that would allow federal contractors to discriminate against employees based on “sincerely held religious tenets” of the corporation or business.
In an alarming new twist, the rule would protect a federal contractor engaging in discrimination based on conduct that the employer says violates their religion. Worse still, for-profit companies would be given a cover for labor discrimination so long as they invoke a religious purpose for such actions.
This proposed regulation would most obviously target LGBTQ individuals. Anti-gay employers have a long history of disingenuously arguing that they are not discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, but rather on “lifestyle” choices or “conduct.”
But this rule could also be used to deny employment to atheists, members of a minority religion, single mothers or anyone else who isn’t practicing the “right” religion in the “proper” way, in the eyes of an employer receiving federal funds. In other words, Christian employers could discriminate against non-Christians, including atheists, or even against anyone they deem to be a “bad Christian.”
Giving federal contractors a religious license to discriminate in employment places the federal government’s stamp of approval on all manner of bigotry. The Trump Administration’s proposed rule shamefully lets our taxpayer dollars go to discrimination by federal contractors. This harmful proposal would roll back decades of progress on labor law and the protection of the rights of LGBTQ and other vulnerable individuals.
FFRF is urging the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which regulates anti-discrimination requirements, to reject the propposal.
“The Labor Department instead should adopt rules that will protect employees who have a history of suffering discrimination, rather than legalizing invidious discrimination,” says Dan Barker, FFRF co-president.
FFRF encourages others to speak out against this rule by submitting a formal comment online no later than September 16 on regulations.gov.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 30,000 members nationwide, including members in all 50 states. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.