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Obama to act on issue of gay rights in the workplace

Many Indiana residents are aware of the ongoing national debate regarding gay rights. While federal laws are in place to guard against race discrimination in the workplace, efforts to expand this protection to cover bias based on an individual's sexual orientation have so far proved unsuccessful. The Senate approved such a measure in 2013, but the initiative has subsequently stalled in the House of Representatives.

In a June 16 statement, a White House official said that President Obama has decided to act unilaterally on the issue. While he does not have the authority to create new law, he plans to sign an executive order that applies to federal contractors forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation. This would be a significant step as federal contractors employ about a quarter of the country's total workforce.

No specific details were given regarding the timing of the initiative, and the official that released the information asked to remain anonymous. However, the news will still be welcomed by gay rights activists who have been critical of his lack of action in this area. President Obama has taken similar steps in the past by signing executive orders that raised the minimum wage for those working for federal contractors and also expanded their eligibility for overtime pay.

While a federal law forbidding workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation that protects all Americans still appears to be a long way off, there are laws in place that forbid discrimination based on an individual's race, religion or age. However, these cases can often be difficult, and a consultation with an attorney experienced in this area may be a prudent step to take before pursuing a claim of this type.

Source: WDRB.com, "Obama to sign order extending LGBT protections", June 16, 2014

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