WASHINGTON (PM) — The Trump administration on Wednesday formally proposed a new rule to let businesses with federal contracts cite religious objections as a valid reason to discriminate against their workers. This discrimination would be based on LGBTQ status, sex, race, ethnicity, national origin, and other characteristics.
The move signals President Donald Trump’s newest endeavor to undermine the civil rights of minorities with ambiguous rules that allow agencies broad discretion to let companies off the hook when accused of discrimination.
The 46-page draft rule from the Labor Department would pertain to a variety of so-called religious organizations — including corporations, schools, and societies — granted that they declare a “religious purpose.”
Workers could still take employers to court, but no federal law explicitly protects LGBTQ workers. And under the proposed rule, the Labor Department wouldn’t need to exert enforcement action or eliminate lucrative contracts with businesses that make religious claims as to the basis for bias.
The new rule would not dismiss longstanding nondiscrimination executive orders — such as a 2014 order outlawing LGBT discrimination — but rather design a pathway to get around them.
The proposal could affect up to 420,000 contractors, according to the plan to be published in the Federal Register.