Obama Signs Order Requiring Contractors to Disclose Labor Violations

President Obama on July 31 signed The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, requiring federal contractors – before they can receive new federal contracts – to disclose labor law violations that have occurred in the last three years.

“The government should not reward lawbreakers with taxpayer-funded contracts,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Yet each year, the government contracts with companies that routinely violate workplace health and safety protections, engage in race and sex discrimination, and illegally withhold employees’ wages. By cracking down on federal contractors who break the law, the president will help ensure that all hardworking Americans get the fair pay and safe workplaces they deserve.”

The order also allows certain civil rights and employment complaints to be heard by a judge instead of an arbitrator. Previously, employers had the freedom to bypass civil rights laws through forced arbitration, making dozens of antidiscrimination laws meaningless. This provision could be improved by preventing the enforcement of forced arbitration clauses in all civil rights and employment disputes.

The order comes on the heels of executive action to protect LGBT workers, particularly by barring discrimination against transgender federal employees and LGBT employees of federal contractors. Obama has also issued orders this year on minimum wage and equal pay, and is expected to issue additional executive action on immigration reform later this summer.