On January 21, 2021, NWLC, along with co-counsel Democracy Forward, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon challenging a Trump-era rule promulgated by the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP“), entitled “Implementing Legal Requirements Regarding the Equal Opportunity Clause’s Religious Exemption”. The rule, which went into effect on January 8, dangerously and unlawfully expands the “religious exemption” contained in Executive Order 11246, increasing the number of federal contractors who will be able to discriminate against marginalized workers under the guise of religious belief. The broadening of this exemption threatens to harm women and LGBTQ individuals because employers often cite to religious beliefs in their attempts to justify discrimination against LGBTQ workers and against women in connection with their behavior or role in society, family structure, or reproductive health decisions.
Our lawsuit is filed on behalf of three organizations whose missions are to promote equity and diversity in the workplace and will be significantly impacted by the new rule: Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc., Pride at Work, and American Federation of Teachers, Inc. The complaint alleges that the rule is “arbitrary and capricious,” in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act, because OFCCP both acted outside of its authority and failed to explain the rule’s purpose or legal basis. Because of these fatal flaws and the harms that would flow from the rule, we are asking the court to vacate the rule in its entirety