As a recent Recruiting Daily article from Katrina Kibben pointed out, many employers still have the legal right to terminate employees due to sexual preference. As Katrina mentioned many state and local governments already include sexual orientation and gender identity on the list of protected classes in employment discrimination, however federal laws did not include gender identity, or sexual orientation outside of protections for direct employees of the federal government - until last week.
On July 21, 2014, President Obama issued an Executive Order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity for all federal employees and government contractors.The order amends two existing anti-discrimination laws - Executive Order 11478, Equal Employment Opportunity in the Federal Government, and Executive Order 11246, Equal Employment Opportunity.
The amendment to Order 11478, which applies to federal employees, takes effect immediately. The amendments to Order 11246 affect federal contractors, and will take effect early next year after the Department of Labor has time to create and distribute rules pursuant to the Order.
President Obama’s Order will affect approximately 24,000 companies that employ roughly 28 million employees, roughly one-fifth of the nation’s workforce.