Today, I filed a meeting request with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs concerning the direct final rule the Department of Labor sent to the White House to implement President Obama’s Executive Order 13,672 (July 21, 2014), which prohibits Federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The reason for the meeting is simple: present Obama Administration policy suggests that the Department of Labor may attempt to issue regulations which claim to prohibit such discrimination, but allow Federal contractors and subcontractors to discriminate against employees with respect to health insurance benefits through maintaining exclusions for transition-related care. As noted previously, all of the nationwide insurance plans open to all Federal employees maintain discriminatory clauses excluding transition-related care from coverage. This creates cause for concern that the Department of Labor will similarly allow such exclusions.
The draft regulations have been provided to the White House in the form of a “direct final rule,” meaning there is no opportunity for public comment prior to the regulations being published in final form. While there remain administrative remedies available after publication, it would be best if the White House gets the regulations correct in the first place and prohibits all Federal contractors and subcontractors from offering health insurance benefits that discriminate on the basis of gender identity.