Obama Order Blocks Federal Contracts for Age Discrimination Violators

Contractors found to have discriminated against workers because of their age or committed other recent labor-law violations will be ineligible for federal contracts under an executive order that President Barack Obama signed today.

White House

Among the worker protections in the order: Businesses with federal contracts of $1 million or more cannot require arbitration in worker disputes involving sexual harassment and certain civil rights violations. Workers also must get basic information on their paychecks, such as deductions and hours worked, so they can verify that their pay is accurate.

"For companies that have violations, the emphasis is not going to be on punishment. It's to give them a chance to follow good workplace practices and come in compliance with the law," Obama said at a news conference before signing the order.

>> Sign up for the AARP Money newsletter

About one in five American workers are employed at a business with a federal contract, the president said.

The order will apply to new contracts worth more than $500,000. Prospective contractors will be required to report labor violations that occurred within the past three years. They will also need to collect this information from their subcontractors. A White House fact sheet said contracting officers will be looking at the most "egregious violations."

Agencies, too, will be given the tools to better evaluate potential contractors, the president said.

The rule is expected to be phased in on new contracts.

In the past, labor-law violations haven't precluded employers from securing business from Uncle Sam.  The Government Accountability Office reported in 2010, for instance, that contractors committing two-thirds of the 50 biggest wage and hour violations went on to win federal contracts.

Companies that violate labor laws not only fail their workers but taxpayers, too, Obama said. These companies often underperform, turning in sloppy work, missing deadlines and overbilling taxpayers, the president said.

For older workers, one of the key provisions is that age discrimination won't be tolerated among employers seeking to do business with the government.

>> Get travel discounts with your AARP Member Advantages.

"We know that age discrimination is a big problem," although cases often don't end up in court, said Sara Rix, senior strategic policy adviser at the AARP Public Policy Institute.

To the extent that employers will have to be more careful in how they treat workers and take steps to prevent discrimination, the executive order "should benefit a greater number of workers," she said.

This is the latest executive order this year involving worker protections and federal contractors. An order signed earlier this month prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. And a February order set a minimum wage of $10.10 at federal contractors and subcontractors.

Photo: Jkinsey/iStock


Also of Interest


See the  AARP home page for deals, savings tips, trivia and more


Search AARP Blogs

Related Posts
December 13, 2016 03:31 PM
This is a wonderful time of the year to relax, recharge and refocus before the new year begins. It’s also an ideal time for family and friends to gather to catch up, and for you to reflect and begin to focus on your 2017 goals, particularly as they relate to your career. Whether you’re employed and searching for a new job or unemployed and seeking a job, now is the perfect time to develop your execution plan. Here are a few pointers to help you get focused and stay ahead in your job search.
September 08, 2016 03:31 PM
Are you seeking a career change or a new job? If so, plan to attend  AARP’s Virtual Career Fair, Sept. 20 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET. The fair will feature employers from across the country.
March 11, 2016 10:58 AM
Are you looking for a new job or considering a career change? Many experienced workers share the sentiment that navigating today’s job market is not as easy as it was perhaps 20 years ago. In the world of social media and job hunting online, it can become even more difficult to navigate the myriad social and professional platforms. It may require you to regroup, get reenergized and rework your job search plan.