With Legislation Stalled, Governor Wolf Expands Non-Discrimination Protections for State Workers, Contractors

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today signed two executive orders that expand protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender expression or identity for state employees and, for the first time, employees of contractors doing business with the commonwealth. Governor Wolf’s executive orders come as the Pennsylvania Fairness Act, which would apply these protections to all Pennsylvania workers, remains stalled in the General Assembly.

“With no sign that Republican leaders plan to free this bill that has broad, bi-partisan support, I am taking action to protect those that I can and send a signal to the country that Pennsylvania is open for business no matter who you are or whom you love,” Governor Wolf said. “What happened in North Carolina, and what is going on in other states, should be a call to pass non-discrimination legislation in Pennsylvania now.

“We must show that Pennsylvania is the place that William Penn envisioned when he founded our commonwealth on the principle that it is open, diverse, and inclusive for all people. I call on the General Assembly to swiftly put legislation on my desk that ensures that people throughout the commonwealth – regardless of sexual orientation, gender expression or identity – are treated equally under Pennsylvania law.”

The purpose of these executive orders is to establish policy, procedures and responsibilities for the prohibition of discrimination and affirmation of equal employment opportunity in the commonwealth. Agencies under the Governor’s jurisdiction, employees and applicants for employment in those agencies, and vendors are affected by these Executive Orders.

Business owners and advocates joined Governor Wolf in calling for the legislature to finally pass the Pennsylvania Fairness Act.

“As a Philadelphia-based LGBT Business Enterprise with nearly $2 million in annual revenue and 20 employees, it is vital for us to be able to attract and retain talented and diverse team members,” said Marc Coleman, President of the Tactile Group in Philadelphia. “Today’s announcement is especially timely as legislators in both North Carolina and Mississippi attempt to roll back the equality clock with their latest batch of discriminatory laws. It’s encouraging to live in a state whose leadership is empathetic to the challenges of the LGBT business community, sees the value of diversity, and understands the need for inclusion.”

The first executive order the governor signed today says that no agency under the Governor’s jurisdiction shall discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment on the basis of race, color, religious creed, ancestry, union membership, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, national origin, AIDS or HIV status, or disability. Executive Order 2003-10 will be rescinded and replaced by this executive order.

Each agency under the Governor’s jurisdiction will ensure fair and equal employment opportunities exist at every level of government.

The second executive order will ensure that all contracting processes of commonwealth agencies will be nondiscriminatory and that all businesses contracting with the commonwealth as well as all grantees should use nondiscriminatory practices in subcontracting, hiring, promoting, and other labor matters. Executive Order 2006-02 will be rescinded and replaced by the executive order.

For more information on the fight to end LGBT discrimination in Pennsylvania, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do these executive orders do?

These executive orders reaffirm the commonwealth’s continued commitment to being an equal opportunity employer committed to workplace diversity and to treating Pennsylvanians with dignity and respect and enhance their recognition and protection.

The executive orders include several changes.
  • Directs OA and the Department of General Services, Bureau of Diversity, Inclusion and Small Business Opportunities to ascertain how equal employment opportunity best practices can promote diversity, inclusion, and fairness in commonwealth contracting.
  • Directs OA to examine whether employees or applicants for commonwealth employment experience workplace challenges due to sexual orientation and/or gender expression or identity and identify ways to minimize any such challenges.
  • Evaluate the commonwealth’s hiring and job retention practices to ensure compliance with this executive order.
  • Executive Orders 2003-10 and 2006-02 will be rescinded and replaced by these new executive orders
Primary Changes:

Adds specific mandates for the Office of Administration, Bureau of Workforce Planning, Development and Equal Employment Opportunity to:

  • Examine whether employees or applicants for employment experience workplace challenges due to sexual orientation and/or gender expression or identity and identify ways to minimize those challenges.
  • Evaluate the commonwealth’s hiring and retention practices to ensure compliance with the Executive Order.
  • Coordinate with the Department of General Services, Bureau of Diversity, Inclusion and Small Business Opportunities to determine how equal employment opportunity best practices can promote diversity, inclusion and fairness in commonwealth contracting.
  • Adds specific mandates/recommendations for state government agencies to:
  • Mandate agencies under the Governor’s jurisdiction to work cooperatively with the Bureau of Workforce Planning, Development, and Equal Employment Opportunity to fulfill the demands of the Executive Order.
  • Encourage independent agencies, state-affiliated entities, and state-related agencies to adopt, refine, and implement similar practices and procedures to support greater diversity, inclusion, and fairness in employment opportunities within their workforce.
Who is affected by these executive orders?

Agencies under the Governor’s jurisdiction, employees and applicants for employment in those agencies, and vendors are affected by these executive orders.

The commonwealth is committed to providing equal employment opportunity to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religious creed, ancestry, union membership, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, national origin, AIDS or HIV status, or disability. The commonwealth is also committed to ensuring that its practices and procedures support greater diversity, inclusion and fairness in employment opportunities within its workforce.

The Office of Administration, Bureau of Workforce Planning, Development and Equal Employment Opportunity oversees the development, implementation, and enforcement of the Commonwealth’s equal employment opportunity programs.

Designated agency Equal Opportunity Officers have primary responsibility for developing and implementing agency equal employment opportunity programs.

Who does this impact for contracts and grants?

This executive order will eventually apply to tens of thousands of state contracts and grants at the various agencies within the Governor’s jurisdiction. Because the executive only applies to future contracts, it is difficult to predict the full number, or total value which will be affected. To give an idea of the scale of the contracts the state has at any given time, the Department of General Services currently has 3,525 contracts under management with the current EEO language. DGS also administers nearly 10,000 grants per year. PennDOT has 373 state funded highway contracts and 1,302 consultant agreements.

What is the cost?

The Office of the Budget has performed a Fiscal Analysis of the EO and found that it will create no loss of revenue, and no increase in program costs.

Where will the clause be added for contracts and grants?

The new language will appear in the all commonwealth contracting documents under the nondiscrimination/sexual Harassment clause.

How are these executive orders enforced?

Because we are adding classes of individuals not currently protected under PA law, there is no ability to enforce the EO’s directly for the benefit of those individuals other than taking contract action, if deemed necessary.

How are these executive orders different than Rendell’s?

The executive order adds clauses for Cooperation by Commonwealth Agencies and for General provisions and removes the “Sanctions” clause.

Are there any other states with these EOs in place?

At least a dozen states have some form of Executive Order in place to protect gay and transgender employees from discrimination. A diverse, and bipartisan group of Governors have recognized the need to eliminate discrimination in the workplace. Montana Governor Steve Bullock, signed a similar EO earlier this year, Jay Inslee of Missouri, issued such an EO in 2010, Virginia Governor terry McCauliff, who’s first Executive Action upon taking office was reversing the decision by his predecessor to remove Virginia’s protections, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick who signed an non-discrimination EO in 2011.

Only 18 states and the District of Columbia have laws explicitly protecting LGBT workers from being fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. No federal law adequately protects LGBT workers from being fired due to their sexual identity.

 

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