12/31/2014 by Daniel Frost
In 2014 Barack Obama issued over 30 executive orders as promised in his State of the Union Address. At least three of these orders are notable and will impact federal contractors and workers performing construction and construction management services.
On February 12, 2014, President Obama signed Executive Order 13658, which raises the minimum wage for workers on federal construction and service contracts to $10.10. This order applies to procurements subsequent to January 1, 2015, and provides that after 2015, increases to the minimum wage will be tied to the Consumer Price Index. The Department of Labor will be charged with enforcement and rulemaking on implementation and remedies for violations is already underway.
On July 21, 2014 President Obama signed Executive Order 13672, which extends the antidiscrimination protections of two previous executive orders to LGBT federal workers. This order now prohibits discrimination in the federal civilian workforce on the basis of gender identity or hiring by federal contractors on the basis of sexual identity or gender identity. Federal contractors will also be required to engage in certain affirmative action to provide equal opportunity to LGBT federal workers. Final rules have been promulgated and the order looks to become effective early next year. Enforcement will be through the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.
Also on July 21, 2014 President Obama signed Executive Order 13673 which requires that for all federal contracts over $500,000, prospective contractors must disclose various labor violations as set forth in the text of the order. Any violations so disclosed will be considered in determining whether the contractor is a responsible source. Additionally, the information provided on violations must be updated every six months during the performance of the contract. The order also prohibits contractors from relying on pre-dispute arbitration agreements to resolve various civil rights and tort claims where the amount of the contract is over $1 million. Contractors with multiple serious violations in the past are now at risk for suspension and debarment.
It is too early to know for certain the precise risks and burdens of these new executive orders, but it is clear that from 2015 forward, the regulatory and oversight environment will be significantly increased for government contractors.