It has been a busy year for executive orders, especially if you are a federal contractor. Although the President cannot unilaterally implement new employment laws affecting private employers, there has been no shortage of new labor requirements for those doing business with the federal government. Cozen O’Connor just issues an alert entitled “Obama Issues Executive Order Scrutinizing Labor Practices of Federal Contractors,” which can be found here.
This latest executive order, issued July 31, 2014 is entitled the “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order” and contains three parts: (1) requires disclosure to the federal government of all labor law violations over the 3 years preceding the contract; (2) requires written disclosure of certain pay information to employees, including their exemption or independent contractor status; and (3) prohibits pre-dispute arbitration agreements covering claims under Title VII or state law claims related to harassment or sexual assault. The most concerning part of this new executive order is the requirement to disclose labor law violations (which will supposedly be defined by upcoming regulations from the Dept. of Labor). This provision opens up the potential for abuse by unions who target a federal contractor and use the threat of lawsuits and unfair labor practice charges as a means to pressure the company into surrender to avoid losing a lucrative federal contract.
This latest executive order also comes on top of prior orders this year barring employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or sexual identity, requiring contractors to provide compensation data broken down by gender and race, and also from retaliating against employees who disclose pay information.