President Obama issued the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order on Wednesday, July 30 only 10 days after prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity, in the Further Amendments to Executive Order 11478, Equal Employment Opportunity in the Federal Government, and Executive Order 11246, Equal Employment Opportunity Executive Order. These two Executive Orders add more compliance obligations for employers that choose to do business with the federal government.
Under the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, which is slated to go into effect in 2016 for many new contracts of at least $500,000, contractors must disclose labor law violations from the past three years. These violations will be evaluated by agency contracting officers to determine if the violations doom a potential contractor’s bid for federal work. The Executive Order also contains imperatives regarding pay information to be disclosed to workers, a prohibition against mandatory arbitration agreements for some large contracts, and the development of a website to manage the information collected under the Executive Order’s provisions. The Executive Order directs the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council to propose “necessary and appropriate” implementing regulations.
On July 21, President Obama amended Executive Order 11246 (which mandates affirmative action by federal contractors and subcontractors) and Executive Order 11478 (which bars discrimination against federal employees) to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics. The U.S. Department of Labor will publish proposed regulations implementing this Executive Order before November.
Many employers are understandably concerned with the added expense of compliance resulting from the Obama administration’s recent Executive Orders and the new sanctions for wage and hour violations. Regulations under these two new Executive Orders are not likely to assuage those concerns.