On August 10, 2018, the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs issued a new directive that could make it easier for any federal contractors to use religion to justify employment discrimination. The directive supersedes Obama-era guidance on an existing, narrow religious exemption. The guidance explained that the exemption only permits faith-based contractors to favor people in hiring who are the same faith and does not sanction discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, or disability. The directive also cherry-picked principles from Supreme Court cases—Hobby Lobby, Trinity Lutheran, and Masterpiece—that would result in significantly broader religious exemptions for “religion-exercising” contractors. The office is also drafting regulations to implement this troubling directive.

Our country is strongest when we are all free to believe or not, as we see fit, and to practice our faith without hurting others. This directive could allow taxpayer-funded contractors to use religion to justify discriminating against LGBTQ people, women, and others.  

Status Issued Friday, August 10, 2018

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