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Recent Executive Orders May Impact You Too

Recent news from Washington has implications for both federal contractors and those who do business with them. The rules not only apply to those businesses with direct federal contracts, but also to certain suppliers and sub-contractors who provide goods and services used to perform those federal contracts.

Effective for contracts entered into as of July 21, 2014, President Obama signed an Executive Order extending certain federal protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, as the Order specifically prohibits federal government contractors from discriminating against employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. While the Order leaves intact a 2002 Executive Order allowing religious groups to consult their beliefs in hiring and termination decisions, there are no exemptions for religiously-affiliated contractors.

While at least 20 states prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (with slightly fewer covering gender identity as well), this Executive Order potentially provides greater protections to employees of federal contractors not only in those states, but elsewhere, as well as to some of their suppliers/sub-contractors. This recent development, along with recent pronouncements by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals may also experience sex discrimination, including sexual harassment or other kinds of sex discrimination in violation of Title VII's prohibitions, means that now is the perfect time to review your discrimination, harassment and retaliation policies to ensure your organization is in compliance with current and evolving federal law.

Ensuring compliance with these and other new developments took on a new urgency as the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) has sent out Corporate Scheduling Announcement Letters (CSALs) to the Human Resource Directors of certain federal contractors warning them of future audits. Contractors can confirm whether they should have received a CSAL, and multiple-establishment contractors can request a list of affected establishments, by calling the Division of Program Operations at 202-693-1305.

And just yesterday, as part of the President's ongoing efforts to “encourage federal contractors to maintain lawful working conditions,” he signed another Executive Order requiring companies, as well as their covered subcontractors and suppliers, who are hoping to secure contracts of over $500,000 to disclose labor law violations from the past three years. It also bars certain contractors from forcing employees to sign arbitration agreements regarding civil rights disputes.

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