Proposed federal religious protection rules
• A proposed rule of the Labor Department was announced on 14th August and would be published on the 15th; whereby the proposal would cement current exemptions that “religion-exercising organizations” can use to shield themselves from bias claims for hiring decisions and other actions motivated by religious belief.
• The proposed rule is meant to ensure that the religious protections are given equal federal recognition as all other civil rights. It discourages employees from discriminations based on sex, race among other factors; but does not exempt contractors from complying to legal requirements.
• However, advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals said that they would work to stop this rule as they felt the rule could bring about discrimination at the workplace.
• The Christian policy organization welcomed the proposal claiming that previous OFCCP did not encourage religious freedom but this proposal would give people the confidence that their religious beliefs would not be compromised when doing business with the government.
• The Christian Legal Society and the Synagogue of Conservative Judaism did not comment on the proposal.
• The Equal Employment Opportunity and the Justice Department are split on the proposed rule. As a result, the issue is in court awaiting judgment by the U.S supreme court. The proposal has been pending review by the White House’s Office since April.
• The rulemaking process will allow the public to participate in giving an opinion on the proposal. Therefore, it will be open for public comments until 16th September.