Quantcast
Connect with us

Trump’s Labor Department wants to ‘weaponize’ right-wing discrimination and bigotry

Published

on

- Commentary
Thanks for your support!
This article was paid for by reader donations to Raw Story Investigates.

This article was paid for by Raw Story subscribers. Not a subscriber? Try us and go ad-free for $1. Prefer to give a one-time tip? Click here.

Terry H. Schwadron
Terry H. Schwadron

Just in case you wanted to believe that the Trump administration isn’t on a campaign to trample rights for Americans, here comes the Labor Department to shove a grapefruit in your face.

Labor officials have made public a new rule—no Congress, needed, thank you—to allow companies contracting with the federal government who are “religion-exercising organizations” to ignore federal laws protecting the rights of gays, transsexuals, and who knows who else in hiring or workplace practices. Religious employers and companies with “closely held” religious ties now will be shielded from claims of bias in court or other law enforcement actions, says the rule.

ADVERTISEMENT

When did it come about that the only way you can enjoy or pursue your idea of a God or of a heavenly record of good deeds at the expense of someone else?

Specifically, the word came from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which started talking about this approach last year, drawing a long list of civil rights complaints from around the country, from the ACLU, the Anti-Defamation League, and the NAACP in addition to groups specifically carrying LBGTQ credentials. Indeed, the issue pit one government agency against another as the Equal Employment Opportunity folks did battle with the Department of Justice. Those groups will have this in court faster than you can say The Most Rev. Justice Suspended.

Apparently, it’s not enough to have the listed job qualifications. Now you’ll have to have to promise to pretend you’re someone you’re not. Just where is the list of what you can’t do and still stay employed?

When did it come about that the only way you can enjoy or pursue your idea of a God or of a heavenly record of good deeds at the expense of someone else?

September Deadline

For the record, you have until Sept. 16 to submit public comment on this before it automatically becomes enacted.

ADVERTISEMENT

Here’s what the Labor Department says: “The proposed rule is intended to clarify the longstanding civil rights protections afforded to religious organizations that contract with the federal government. The proposal would ensure the ‘religious protections are given the same federal recognition as all other civil rights.’”

Opponents say this move weaponizes religious freedom, while religious advocates welcomed the clarification. Bias complaints from LGBT job seekers have tripled in recent years.

Labor says the rule is intended to make clear that religious employers can condition employment on acceptance of or adherence to religious tenets without sanction by the federal government, provided that they do not discriminate based on other protected bases. They don’t say how someone does that.

ADVERTISEMENT

‘Muddled Issues’

The logic of the Labor Department is that since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there have been various statutes, Supreme Court decisions and Executive Orders that have left the issues muddled and that this rule is meant to provide guidance. Indeed, recent Supreme Court decisions have backed cakemakers who don’t want to bake for gay wedding customers and the Hobby Lobby folks and churches who objected to the inclusion of contraception in required health insurance. A White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative, along with U.S. Department of Justice guidance, likewise instructed federal agencies to protect religious exercise and not impede it.

“In keeping with that rich history, the proposed rule would clarify that religious organizations may make employment decisions consistent with their sincerely held religious tenets and beliefs without fear of sanction by the federal government. The proposal also reaffirms employers’ obligations not to discriminate on the basis of race, sex, or other protected bases and does not exempt or excuse a contractor from complying with any other requirements,” the Labor Department explains. That office within Labor is supposed to enforce anti-discrimination employment laws—for protected classes of workers identified on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran.

ADVERTISEMENT

Apparently, unless the company prays.

We know that workplace protections for LGBTQ employees have been hotly debated under the Trump administration. After Donald Trump said a federal ban on sex discrimination doesn’t include sexual orientation and gender identity bias, the Justice Department overturned its own position under the previous administration.

Justice Sides Against Transsexuals

The Supreme Court has three cases on the docket for the fall to test employment bars based on sexual orientation or gender identity. On Friday, the Department of Justice weighed in on the side of making it okay to fire an employee—this case involves a funeral home—just for moving towards transsexual surgery.

ADVERTISEMENT

Curiously, the adjacent news release on the Labor Department’s website described a recent court conciliation agreement reached by this office with a technology company by which the federal contractor was forced to pay $175,000 in back wages to resolve claims of systemic hiring discrimination at its Portland, Oregon facility. That case involved more than 1,000 women, black and Asian-American applicants.

Last year, the same office launched a contractor assistance portal as a source of online help in how to take the best advantage of the rules.

How about this for a rule: Let’s keep religion out of government, like the Constitution says.

This article was paid for by Raw Story subscribers. Not a subscriber? Try us and go ad-free for $1. Prefer to give a one-time tip? Click here.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan to give up royal titles — ‘the hardest #Megxit possible’

Published

on

Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan will give up their royal titles and public funding as part of a settlement with the Queen to start a new life away from the British monarchy.

The historic announcement from Buckingham Palace on Saturday follows more than a week of intense private talks aimed at managing the fallout of the globetrotting couple's shock resignation from front-line royal duties.

It means Queen Elizabeth II's grandson Harry and his American TV actress wife Meghan will stop using the titles "royal highness" -- the same fate that befell his late mother Princess Diana after her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

GOP senator tells home-state press that impeachment trial must be ‘viewed as fair’: report

Published

on

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) spoke to local reporters on Saturday about her role in the upcoming Donald Trump impeachment trial.

Murkowski explained she would likely vote with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on an initial vote on whether to allow witnesses. However, she left the door open to voting for witnesses after House impeachment managers make their opening case.

"I don't know what more we need until I have been given the base case," she said. "We will have that opportunity to say 'yes' or 'no' ... and if we say 'yes,' the floor is open."

Overall, Murkowski said it was important for the trial to been viewed as fair.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

White House press secretary urged to do her job: ‘We don’t pay you to be a Twitter troll’

Published

on

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham was blasted on Saturday over the confusion resulting from her refusal to hold daily press briefings.

CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy was alarmed that Grisham's assistant, Hogan Gidley, was forcing reporters to refer to his remarks as coming from a "sources close to the President's legal team."

Darcy noted that Trump had repeatedly questioned the veracity of unnamed sources, making it problematic for Gidley to demand to be quoted as such.

https://twitter.com/oliverdarcy/status/1218704788432572422

Grisham responded to the criticism and asked Darcy to "stop with the righteous indignation.

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1 and go ad-free.
close-image