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Monday, October 5, 2015

If You Work For A Federal Contractor, You Have More Rights Than You Thought You Did. Thanks, Obama!

President Obama has been firing up his mighty pen and issuing Executive Orders left and right. Well, left anyhow. Some of those orders may benefit you. If you work for a company that does business with or gets money from the Federal government, you probably have more rights than you thought you did.

Here are some of the lovely, pro-employee executive orders that you should thank President Obama for (and vote well in the next election to preserve, since every Republican candidate vows to reverse every one of these):

Paid sick leave: You will be entitled to one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, starting in 2017. Since this is just a few days before the President leaves office, if you vote wrong this order will not have much chance to actually go into effect.

LGBT discrimination: Gender identity discrimination by contractors is now illegal, along with sexual orientation discrimination.

$10.10 minimum wage: Starting January 1, 2016, contractors must pay $10.10/hour as a minimum wage, and $5.85/hour to tipped employees.

Right to work for a successor company: For service contracts of $150,000 and up, if a new company displaces an existing company, the employees of the predecessor must be offered first shot at jobs under the new contract. Service employees have to be told of their right of first refusal by either posting a notice or giving individual notice to the predecessor contractor’s employees. The predecessor contractor has to provide its successor an employee list by 30 days before the end of the contract.

Blacklisting for employment/labor law violations: Anyone applying or bidding for a federal contract of $500,000 or more must disclose any employment or labor law violation. They must disclose any administrative merit determination, arbitral award or decision, or civil judgment rendered against them within the preceding three-year period for a violation of any of these laws:

(A) the Fair Labor Standards Act;
(B) the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970;
(C) the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act;
(D) the National Labor Relations Act;
(E) 40 U.S.C. chapter 31, subchapter IV, also known as the Davis-Bacon Act;
(F) 41 U.S.C. chapter 67, also known as the Service Contract Act;
(G) Executive Order 11246 of September 24, 1965 (Equal Employment Opportunity);
(H) section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973;
(I) 38 U.S.C. 3696, 3698, 3699, 4214, 4301-4306, also known as the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974;
(J) the Family and Medical Leave Act;
(K) title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964;
(L) the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990;
(M) the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967;
(N) Executive Order 13658 of February 12, 2014
(Establishing a Minimum Wage for Contractors); or
(O) equivalent State laws, as defined in guidance issued by the Department of Labor.
Post-award and during the performance of a contract, contractors have to update their violation information every six months and, for some contracts, obtain the same violation information from their covered subcontractors.

This means that federal contractors need to be very afraid of things like a "cause" finding from EEOC. Punishment for repeat offenders can be up to cancellation or denial of a contract.

No mandatory arbitration: Yes, I know I linked to the same executive order as blacklisting, above. That's because the same order bans agreements that require mandatory arbitration for discrimination and sexual harassment claims. Specifically, "for all contracts where the estimated value of the supplies acquired and services required exceeds $1 million, provisions in solicitations and clauses in contracts shall provide that contractors agree that the decision to arbitrate claims arising under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or any tort related to or arising out of sexual assault or harassment may only be made with the voluntary consent of employees or independent contractors after such disputes arise." This also applies to subcontractors providing services or supplies over $1 million.

Overall, these orders mean that President Obama has taken serious action to protect as many employees as he can with his pen, since Congress won't do diddly squat to protect employees in its current configuration. This is solid proof that your vote matters.

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I appreciate your comments and general questions but this isn't the place to ask confidential legal questions. If you need an employee-side employment lawyer, try http://exchange.nela.org/findalawyer to locate one in your state.