More than 100,000 people have signed an online petition asking the president to issue an executive order ensuring workplace protections for gay federal contractors.
Administration officials will not confirm any action, but Tico Almeida, president of the Freedom to Work advocacy group, said Labor and Justice department lawyers have recommended President Obama issue a policy requiring federal contractors to ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Freedom to Work, which seeks anti-discrimination policies for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender workers, created the online petition at Change.org.
More than 16 million employees of federal contractors either work for companies or reside in states that do not provide those protections, according to a February report by UCLA’s Williams Institute, which conducts research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy.
Several large contractors, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing and General Dynamics, and some states offer specific protections against sexual orientation discrimination, Almeida said. DynCorp International recently added such protections after reports that company officials demoted and transferred an employee who reported being taunted by anti-gay slurs, he said.
Companies without explicit policies prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination may still offer protections for their employees, said Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president for the Professional Services Council industry association. However, having those policies in place could help the workforce feel better protected, he said.
“It’s an area worth paying attention to,” Chvotkin said.