President Barack Obama is planning to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The move comes as the US Congress continues to be stalled on the long-delayed Employment Non-Discrimination Act, commonly known as ENDA. The legislation passed the Senate last year but has languished in the Republican-led House of Representatives.
While not as sweeping as ENDA, an executive order would provide explicit, legally-recognized protections to 11 million employees who don’t have them now according to a study by the Williams Institute.
It would cover approximately one-quarter of the workplace in the US, according to the Associated Press.
A White House official has confirmed that Obama asked his staff to prepare the order but it is not known when he plans to sign it.
Lambda Legal said in a statement that based on the thousands of calls for help they get each year, workplace discrimination is one of the most frequent problems that LGBTI people face.
‘We applaud the Obama administration’s step towards protecting LGBT employees of federal contractors,’ stated Greg Nevins, counsel in Lambda Legal’s workplace fairness strategist. ‘Like many presidents before him, President Obama is taking action to ensure that taxpayer money is not wasted on workplace discrimination or harassment.’