The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced a new pilot program to speed up discretionary suspensions and debarments of individuals and contractors “from months to days.” The pilot program’s goal is to reduce the processing time for discretionary suspensions and debarments through the sharing of information based on indictments or convictions.
Discretionary suspensions and debarments may result for conduct related to discrimination based on race, religion, gender identity, sex, or national origin (to include failure to adhere to fair pay practices or provide equal access to job opportunities), as well as sexual harassment. DOL enforces labor standards against contractors performing contracts with other agencies, and, like any other federal agency, DOL also suspends and debars its own contractors for various reasons.
The program increases the stakes for all government contractors under review for their labor practices. A government investigation that uncovers sexual harassment, unlawful discrimination, or other prohibited labor practices may now result in a contractor’s discretionary suspension and debarment being fast tracked if the conduct forms part of an indictment or conviction.
The program emphasizes the importance for contractors working with any government agency to ensure their labor policies and practices are compliant with federal regulations. In addition to suspension or debarment, labor violations may result in the cancellation of the contract and/or withholding of contract payments in amounts sufficient to remedy damages to employees. Liquidated damages and/or other penalties may also be assessed.