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Federal Worker Protection


American workers are protected by a number of antidiscrimination laws. The primary federal antidiscrimination laws include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. These laws protect workers from discrimination based upon their sex, race, color, religion, age, or disability. They do not, however, protect workers from discrimination based upon their marital status, sexual orientation, or status as a parent.

Although no federal statute protects workers from discrimination based upon their parental status, an executive order, signed by President Clinton in 2000, affords this protection to federal workers. This article summarizes these executive order parental status protections.

Executive Order Protection

Pursuant to the 2000 executive order, the federal government is prohibited from discriminating against its applicants or employees on the basis of their “status as a parent.” Pursuant to the order, a parent is considered to be anyone who, with respect to a person under the age of 18 (or over the age of 18, but incapable of self-care), is one of the following:

  • Biological parent
  • Adoptive parent
  • Stepparent
  • Custodian of a legal ward
  • Foster parent
  • In loco parentis
  • Actively seeking custody
  • Actively seeking adoption

The order states that the federal government’s policy of equal opportunity, including the protection against discrimination on the basis of parental status, must be an integral part of every aspect of the personnel policy and practice in the employment, development, advancement, and treatment of civilian employees of the federal government.


Although the executive order itself does not set forth specific enforcement procedures, each agency within the federal executive branch has its own set of equal employment opportunity enforcement procedures. Employees who believe that they have been discriminated against on the basis of their status as a parent must follow the complaint processing procedures of their specific federal employers.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.


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