(a) The Commission shall have authority from time to time to issue, amend, or rescind suitable procedural regulations to carry out the provisions of this subchapter. Regulations issued under this section shall be in conformity with the standards and limitations of subchapter II of chapter 5 of title 5.
(b) In any action or proceeding based on any alleged unlawful employment practice, no person shall be subject to any liability or punishment for or on account of (1) the commission by such person of an unlawful employment practice if he pleads and proves that the act or omission complained of was in good faith, in conformity with, and in reliance on any written interpretation or opinion of the Commission, or (2) the failure of such person to publish and file any information required by any provision of this subchapter if he pleads and proves that he failed to publish and file such information in good faith, in conformity with the instructions of the Commission issued under this subchapter regarding the filing of such information. Such a defense, if established, shall be a bar to the action or proceeding, notwithstanding that (A) after such act or omission, such interpretation or opinion is modified or rescinded or is determined by judicial authority to be invalid or of no legal effect, or (B) after publishing or filing the description and annual reports, such publication or filing is determined by judicial authority not to be in conformity with the requirements of this subchapter.
In subsec. (a), "subchapter II of chapter 5 of title 5" substituted for "the Administrative Procedure Act" on authority of Pub. L. 89–554, §7(b), Sept. 6, 1966, 80 Stat. 631, the first section of which enacted Title 5, Government Organization and Employees.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Guidelines on Religious Harassment
Pub. L. 112–55, div. B, title V, §506, Nov. 18, 2011, 125 Stat. 631, provided that: "During the current fiscal year and in each fiscal year thereafter, none of the funds made available in this or any other Act may be used to implement, administer, or enforce any guidelines of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission covering harassment based on religion, when it is made known to the Federal entity or official to which such funds are made available that such guidelines do not differ in any respect from the proposed guidelines published by the Commission on October 1, 1993 (58 Fed. Reg. 51266)."
Similar provisions were contained in the following prior appropriation acts:
Pub. L. 111–117, div. B, title V, §506, Dec. 16, 2009, 123 Stat. 3150.
Pub. L. 111–8, div. B, title V, §506, Mar. 11, 2009, 123 Stat. 595.
Pub. L. 103–317, title VI, §610, Aug. 26, 1994, 108 Stat. 1774, provided that:
"(1) the liberties protected by our Constitution include religious liberty protected by the first amendment;
"(2) citizens of the United States profess the beliefs of almost every conceivable religion;
"(3) Congress has historically protected religious expression even from governmental action not intended to be hostile to religion;
"(4) the Supreme Court has written that 'the free exercise of religion means, first and foremost, the right to believe and profess whatever religious doctrine one desires';
"(5) the Supreme Court has firmly settled that under our Constitution the public expression of ideas may not be prohibited merely because the content of the ideas is offensive to some;
"(6) Congress enacted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 [42 U.S.C. 2000bb et seq.] to restate and make clear again our intent and position that religious liberty is and should forever be granted protection from unwarranted and unjustified government intrusions and burdens;
"(7) the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has written proposed guidelines to title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 [42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq.], published in the Federal Register on October 1, 1993, that expand the definition of religious harassment beyond established legal standards set forth by the Supreme Court, and that may result in the infringement of religious liberty;
"(8) such guidelines do not appropriately resolve issues related to religious liberty and religious expression in the workplace;
"(9) properly drawn guidelines for the determination of religious harassment should provide appropriate guidance to employers and employees and assist in the continued preservation of religious liberty as guaranteed by the first amendment;
"(10) the Commission states in its proposed guidelines that it retains wholly separate guidelines for the determination of sexual harassment because the Commission believes that sexual harassment raises issues about human interaction that are to some extent unique; and
"(11) the subject of religious harassment also raises issues about human interaction that are to some extent unique in comparison to other harassment.
"(1) the category of religion shall be withdrawn from the proposed guidelines at this time;
"(2) any new guidelines for the determination of religious harassment shall be drafted so as to make explicitly clear that symbols or expressions of religious belief consistent with the first amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 [42 U.S.C. 2000bb et seq.] are not to be restricted and do not constitute proof of harassment;
"(3) the Commission shall hold public hearings on such new proposed guidelines; and
"(4) the Commission shall receive additional public comment before issuing similar new regulations."