The best way to prepare your workplace now for President Trump’s new Religious Freedom Executive Order


Yeah, that’s basically it. Keep calm and carry on.

There was a lot of talk over the past week or so about how the Presidential Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty would create carte blanche for discrimination against LGBTQ and women. (Exhibit A, B, C).

Yeah, that didn’t happen.

Indeed, for all the hype, the actual Executive Order says a whole lotta nothing. If there’s a money shot for the workplace, here it is:

_Sec_. _4_. _Religious Liberty Guidance_. In order to guide all agencies in complying with relevant Federal law, the Attorney General shall, as appropriate, issue guidance interpreting religious liberty protections in Federal law.

Whoop-de-doo! So, at some point in the future, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is going to issue guidance for federal agencies. Sure, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the federal agency that’s responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee. However,  it’s also an independent federal agency. It doesn’t answer to Jeff Sessions.

Plus, you there are those workplace laws like Title VII, FMLA, ADEA, ADA, FLSA that are, you know, laws. So, whatever an attorney general (or President for that matter) has to say about these laws means very little if anything, because these laws say what they say. And courts tend to enforce laws as they are written.

Further, even if a federal court were inclined to pay any mind to an Attorney General’s guidance for federal agencies, there’s still the matter of state and local laws that prohibit discrimination at work too.  No Executive Order addressing federal law will impact the rule of state or local law at work.

So, let’s recap:

  1. Vague Executive Order
  2. EEOC generally defers to what the law says, not what an Attorney General says
  3. Federal judges generally apply federal law as written, rather than how the Attorney General interprets it
  4. State and local law still apply

Keep calm and carry on.

PS – I’ve told you about those two live sessions (no pun intended, this time) that I’m presenting next week on ACA, FMLA, and ADA. Well, one of ’em sold out, lickety. But, I’ve got a few spaces left next week for the one at my office on Thursday, May 11, 2017 from 8:30 AM to 10:30 AM EDT in Philadelphia, PA. If you’d like to attend in person, email me.  Attendees will get free education, free food, and free SHRM/HRCI/CLE credit. Just keep your mitts off my Allen Iverson fathead.

You mean you don’t have a life-size AI in your office? That’s just weird.

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