On the Texas District Court Enjoining ‘Fair Pay & Safe Workplaces’ Implementation

Following is a statement from Christine Owens, Executive Director, National Employment Law Project, responding to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas’s grant of a preliminary injunction against Labor Department regulations implementing President Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order. The regulations require companies bidding on federal contracts worth more than $500,000 to disclose any violations of worker protection laws committed within the last three years.

“Today’s decision temporarily delays the full implementation of the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order. Historically, presidents from both parties have issued numerous executive orders affecting federal contracting. Ultimately, the courts have upheld nearly all these orders. We remain confident that President Obama has acted in the best interests of working families with the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, and we look forward to its implementation.

“Every year, the federal government awards hundreds of billions of dollars in contracts for goods and services. The government is required to award contracts only to responsible companies that have a satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics. Incredibly, violations affecting workers were not considered in making this determination. In fact, almost 30 percent of companies with the highest penalties for labor law violations are federal contractors. These are companies that endanger workers’ safety, shortchange workers on wages, and engage in discrimination.

“Under the new rules, potential contractors bidding for large federal contracts worth more than $500,000 will be required to simply check a box if they have labor violations. That is all. If they reach the ‘responsibility’ determination in the procurement process, the company must then disclose the violations.

“Contrary to the claims of powerful special interests, the goal of this Executive Order is not to prevent companies with violations from receiving federal contracts. Far from the misnomer of ‘blacklisting’, the goal of this order is to bring pervasive violators of federal worker protection laws into compliance so they can be deemed responsible. In fact, the rules require the government to provide guidance to prospective contractors with egregious and pervasive violations and a path to fix the violations and have their bid considered—even before they enter a bid.

“The Executive Order furthers the goal of awarding contracts only to responsible companies, and in so doing, advances important national interests: promoting fair competition among our nation’s businesses, ensuring that taxpayers’ dollars are used appropriately, and helping to facilitate the creation of good jobs.”


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