Protecting Workers’ Rights

Focusing on the Rights of Federal Employees

More bad news for federal contractor employees

Fair Pay and Safe Workspaces executive order repealed 

Another of President Barack Obama's worker-friendly initiatives has been stricken down before it could even take effect. President Donald Trump on Monday signed a bill to rescind the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order (FPSW), which would have cracked down on labor violations by companies that contract with the federal government.

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Republican leaders characterized the FPSW as redundant and overbearing. Trade groups objected to the "blacklisting" of contractors that violate wage laws or safety rules. Labor advocates decried the repeal as a step backward for millions of employees -- one in five Americans work for companies with government contracts.

Who is against fair pay and safe workplaces?

The Fair Pay and Safe Workspaces executive order (FPSW) was set in motion in 2014 and finalized in August 2016. A federal court injunction delayed implementation, and six months later the new Congress voted to kill it altogether. The FPSW would have enacted key protections for employees of federal contractors:

  • Consideration of labor violations - Federal agencies would have been required to consider OSHA violations, wage and hour violations and other regulatory compliance when awarding contracts of $500,000 or more. Historically, some of the most egregious labor law violators have been awarded contracts and renewals.
  • Paycheck transparency - Clearly and unambiguously stating hours worked, overtime, deductions, and exempt or independent contractor status would have made it harder for contractors to skirt wage and hour laws.
  • Prohibition on requiring pre-dispute arbitration - Such mandatory clauses as a condition of employment effectively prevent employees from exercising their right to sue for Title VII discrimination and other torts.

Labor unions, which voted big for President Trump, held out hope that he would veto the FPSW repeal. Instead, Trump and congressional Republicans have decidedly sided with employers and big business in this battle.

There are still labor protections

Federal contractors employ about 26 million Americans, more than one-fifth of the workforce. Without the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rules, violators have less incentive to comply with labor laws or communicate their compliance when bidding on federal contracts.

However, there are still federal laws protecting individual employees and independent contractors from safety violations, sexual harassment, discrimination, and wage and hour abuses. If you believe your civil rights have been breached or if have been unfairly deprived of rightful compensation, find a lawyer who concentrates on federal employment law.

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