The Department of Labor says federal contractors can use religion in deciding who they want to hire or fire, and it’s already creating controversy.
Opponents say the new rule amounts to federally-sanctioned discrimination but others say it’s just the government protecting a company’s religious liberty.
The move overturns years of previous protections.
The Department of Labor says any company that wants to contract with the government should be able to do so, without fear of compromising its religious principles. But opponents say the Trump administration is turning a blind eye to discrimination.
David Stacy with the Human Rights Campaign shares, “It allows anyone who is a federal contractor who wants to discriminate on the basis of religion, to do so.”
Stacy worries federal contractors will be able to fire, or refuse to hire people, who don’t align with the companies’ religious outlook in particular LGBTQ employees.
Stacy adds, “One in four Americans work for a company that’s a federal contractor, so this will have a vast impact on the economy.”
Under an Obama-era executive order, federal contractors have been prohibited from claiming a religious exemption in deciding who to hire. The new rule essentially carves out an exemption to that.
As support, the Labor Department cites recent Supreme Court decisions, like the Hobby Lobby case, which exempts private companies from laws that conflict with their religious beliefs.
Mary Beth Waddell with the Family Research Council says, “But we do believe this is constitutional.”
Waddell says the rule is not discriminatory. Instead, she says it provides all companies with equal protection.
She explains, “To ensure that faith-based employers can be on a level playing field with all other employers when it comes to their ability to contract with the government.”
The published proposal is on hold for 30 days so the public can comment, and opponents of the rule are threatening to challenge it in court.