With new executive order, McAuliffe expands LGBTQ employee protections to Virginia state contractors
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed a new executive order this morning which expands workplace protections to LGBTQ employees of state-contracted business and customers of state services. The step mirrors one taken in 2014 by President Obama for federal contractors.
Executive Order 61 prohibits Virginia’s contractors, subcontractors, and state employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in their work places.
“Starting today, the Commonwealth of Virginia will not do business with entities that discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Gov. McAuliffe in a statement following the signature of the EO this morning in Charlottesville. “Virginia is home to the best state workforce in the country and this policy will ensure there is no question that all Virginians are to receive the full benefits of their citizenship, without regard to their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
State contractors include everything from Body Armor USA, who is authorized to sell products to “State / Localities,” to Old Mansion Foods, a Virginia-based spice company who is authorized to sell spices to the “Department of Blind and Vision Impaired.” The EO not only includes contractors employees, but also subcontracted businesses and the delivery of goods and services.
Check out more state contractors here (if you are really bored and curious like we were.)
About three summers ago, President Obama signed Executive Order 11246 which extended similar protections to similar employee classes at the federal level.
“It doesn’t make much sense,” President Obama said at the EO’s signing. “But today in America, millions of our fellow citizens wake up and go to work with the awareness that they could lose their job, not because of anything they do or fail to do, but because of who they are — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender. And that’s wrong.”
Advocates aren’t expecting much push back from the move; a 2015 study by the Williams Institute at UCLA showed that 80% of Virginians support workplace protections for LGBTQ individuals.
“This policy is simply good business practice—taxpayers should expect that their money will not be used to support organizations that discriminate,” said James Parrish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia, who helped craft the EO.
The executive order also prohibits discrimination in the provision of state services, meaning state employees cannot discriminate against LGBT Virginians.
The policy takes effect today and requires all future Executive contracts over $10K to “include a prohibition on discrimination by the contractor.” It requires any subcontracted agreement over $10K must similarly provide a term of nondiscrimination.
But public businesses are still not required to offer these protections to employees or customers from the state or federal level meaning you can be hire and fired or denied services because you identify as LGBTQ.
Parrish went on to connect the Governor’s EO to the 89 percent of Fortune 500 companies in the United States—and 17 of Virginia’s 18 Fortune – that have nondiscrimination protections in place for gay and transgender employees.
“Executive Order 61 is a critical step forward and will increase the number of individuals protected from discrimination,” Parrish add. “Comprehensive statewide legislation, however, remains a necessity for achieving uniform and complete prohibition of discrimination across the state.”
Top image from today’s signing via Cvill Pride
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