Scott Statement on Department of Labor Proposal to Weaken Anti-Discrimination Protections in Federal Contracting
WASHINGTON, DC – Chairman Bobby Scott (VA-03) issued the following statement after the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Contracting Compliance Programs proposed a new rule which would gut nondiscrimination protections by vastly expanding religious exemptions to Executive Order 11246, which prohibit discrimination in hiring by federal contractors, including on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity.
“The administration’s proposal to weaken anti-discrimination protections in federal contracting would give taxpayer-funded for-profit corporations extraordinary power to hire and fire employees based on religious beliefs. In doing so, the proposed rule violates the separation between church and state by allowing companies to force workers to pass a religious test to perform functions in support of the government.
“The expansion of existing religious exemptions in this proposed rule is so broad that it would allow companies claiming sincerely held religious beliefs to discriminate against LGBTQ Americans, pregnant and unmarried women, interracial married couples, as well as other workers who do not conform to their boss’ beliefs. For the first time, for-profit companies, not just religious non-profit organizations, would be allowed to use religion as a justification for discrimination using taxpayer dollars.
“Historically, we have recognized that the victims of discrimination are those who are being discriminated against. This proposal would turn that principle on its head by asserting that the victims are those who are prevented from engaging in discrimination.
“Religious liberty is a fundamental American value, but we must be careful to ensure that our protections for religious freedom are not used to cause harm or subvert the rights of others. This proposal fails to maintain that delicate balance. The Department of Labor is responsible for protecting workers and enforcing non-discrimination laws. Instead, this proposal would give employers unprecedented power to engage in government-sanctioned discrimination.”