The final rule and guidance implementing the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, signed by President Barack Obama in July 2014 and finally published on August 25, 2016, remain almost as burdensome and problematic as they were when originally proposed. They will impact many federal contractors and require immediate attention to ensure full compliance, which for some will be required as soon as October 2016.
Often referred to as the “blacklisting” law, the Executive Order requires prospective and existing contractors to disclose violations of 14 federal labor laws plus state equivalents, requires them to provide certain information each pay period to enable workers to verify the accuracy of their pay, and prohibits certain contractors from using pre-dispute arbitration agreements to address sexual assault and civil rights claims.
The rule from the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council (U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. General Services Administration and NASA) and guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) are designed to assist agencies in implementing the Executive Order. They detail procedures for making the disclosures, assessing violations, developing conditions for further consideration of bids, and providing required notices to workers.
The final rule and guidance remain burdensome and problematic for several reasons. First, they create a publicly available repository of contractor violations. They also require the contracting officer to determine whether a contractor is a “responsible source” based on violations that may not be final or are subject to appeal. Moreover, contracting officers wield the power to require bidders with records deemed less-than-satisfactory to commit to a labor compliance agreement in order for their bids to be considered. Although some minor changes were made to the proposals between the initial release and ultimate finalization, the overall effect remains the same.