The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has announced a proposal to rescind the final rule “Implementing Legal Requirements Regarding the Equal Opportunity Clause’s Religious Exemption.” The final rule has been in effect since Jan. 8, 2021. The Federal Register will publish the proposal on Nov. 9, 2021.

OFCCP enforces Executive Order 11246, which prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin. EO 11246 contains a religious exemption for certain religious corporations, associations, educational institutions, and societies with respect to the employment of individuals of a particular religion. When analyzing potential discrimination under EO 11246, OFCCP follows the principles of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants and employees on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity), or national origin.

OFCCP’s proposed rescission would preserve the EO 11246 religious exemption, which would still be available to qualifying contractors. This rescission would ensure that the EO 11246 religious exemption is interpreted and applied consistent with Title VII principles and case law. Rescinding this rule would have the effect of returning Department policy and practices to those that were operative during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

To help stakeholders understand the proposed rescission, OFCCP has created the following resources:

Read the Proposal to Rescind, including instructions for submitting comments. All public comments should be submitted by Dec. 9, 2021.