On December 3, 2014 the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued revisions to its regulations implementing Executive Order 11246, which prohibits certain forms of employment discrimination by federal contractors and subcontractors.

Previously, the Executive Order only prohibited employment discrimination on the bases of race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Under the new regulations (which are to take effect in early 2015), the list of protected classifications will be expanded to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” In addition, the regulations require changes in how affected employers advertise open employment positions, as well as posting requirements within the workplace. As was the case with earlier regulations implementing Executive Order 11246, the new regulations “shall not apply to a Government contractor or subcontractor that is a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society” with respect to its religious based activities.

These new regulations require that all federal government contracts with private contractors (including subcontracts) include the new list of protected classifications in all contracts entered into or modified after the effective date of the regulations. Presumably, therefore, the new regulations will not pertain to contracts/subcontracts entered into prior to that date. It is important to note that the new regulations mandate use of very specific new language in contracts/subcontracts, in advertisements for employment positions and in non-discrimination postings in the workplace. Consequently, any business that is a contractor with the federal government, or works as a subcontractor on a federally funded project of any kind (including construction projects) should work with its legal counsel to review these new regulations and prepare for compliance in the very near future.